Mutations in AEC syndrome skin reveal a role for p63 in basement membrane adhesion, skin barrier integrity and hair follicle biology

S. E. Clements, T. Techanukul, J. E. Lai-Cheong, J. B. Mee, A. P. South, C. Pourreyron, N. P. Burrows, J. E. Mellerio, J. A. McGrath

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    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Background AEC (ankyloblepharon-ectodermal defects-clefting) syndrome is an autosomal dominant ectodermal dysplasia disorder caused by mutations in the transcription factor p63. Clinically, the skin is dry and often fragile; other features can include partial eyelid fusion (ankyloblepharon), hypodontia, orofacial clefting, sparse hair or alopecia, and nail dystrophy. Objectives To investigate how p63 gene mutations affect gene and protein expression in AEC syndrome skin. Methods We performed microarray analysis on samples of intact and eroded AEC syndrome skin compared with control skin. Changes were verified by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and, for basal keratinocyte-associated genes, by immunohistochemistry and analysis of microdissected skin. Results We identified significant upregulation of six genes and downregulation of 69 genes in AEC syndrome skin, with the main changes in genes implicated in epidermal adhesion, skin barrier formation and hair follicle biology. There was reduced expression of genes encoding the basement membrane proteins FRAS1 and collagen VII, as well as the skin barrier-associated small proline-rich proteins 1A and 4, late cornified envelope protein 5A, hornerin, and lipid transporters including ALOX15B. Reduced expression of the hair-associated keratins 25, 27, 31, 33B, 34, 35, 81 and 85 was also noted. We also confirmed similar alterations in gene expression for 26 of the 75 genes in eroded AEC scalp skin. Conclusions This study identifies specific changes in skin structural biology and signalling pathways that result from mutant p63 and provides new molecular insight into the AEC syndrome phenotype.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)134-144
    Number of pages11
    JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
    Issue number1
    Early online date14 May 2012
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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