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[Vol.31 No.3 content]

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Article in English

- Invited article -

In Vivo Function of Desmosomes

Xing Cheng1 and Peter J. Koch1,2
1Department of Dermatology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
2Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
Desmosomes are morphologically and biochemically defined cell-cell junctions that are required for maintaining the mechanical integrity of skin and the heart in adult mammals. Furthermore, since mice with null mutations in desmosomal plaque proteins (plakoglobin and desmoplakin) die in utero, it is also evident that desmosomes are indispensable for normal embryonic development. This review focuses on the role of desmosomes in vivo. We will summarize the effects of mutations in desmosomal genes on pre- and post-embryonic development of mouse and man and discuss recent findings relating to the specific role of desmosomal cadherins in skin differentiation and homeostasis.
Abbreviations: Dsg: desmoglein, Dsc: desmocollin, Dp: desmoplakin, Pg: plakoglobin, Pkp: plakophilin, IF: intermediate filaments, K14: keratin 14, K1: keratin 1, SC: stratum corneum, SPPK: striate palmoplantar keratoderma
key words: desmosome; desmosomal cadherin; desmoglein; desmocollin; plakoglobin; desmoplakin; plakophilin; mouse mutants; skin; epidermal differentiation; cytoskeleton; cell adhesion; cell junctions

Reprint requests to: Peter J. Koch, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Room S701, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

J Dermatol 31 (3): 171-187, 2004

Japanese Dermatological Association