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1.  The assay that defines desmosome hyper-adhesion 
PMCID: PMC3522572  PMID: 22931924
2.  Pervanadate stabilizes desmosomes 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2008;2(3):161-166.
Desmosomes are intercellular junctions responsible for strong cell-cell adhesion in epithelia and cardiac muscle. Numerous studies have shown that the other major type of epithelial cell adhesion, the adherens junction, is destabilized by src-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of two of its principal components, E-cadherin and β-catenin. Here we show that treatment of epithelial cells with the potent tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor sodium pervanadate causes tyrosine phosphorylation of the major desmosomal components desmoglein 2 and plakoglobin in both the non-ionic detergent soluble and insoluble cell fractions and, surprisingly, stabilizes desmosomal adhesion, inducing the hyper-adhesive form normally found in tissues and confluent cell sheets. Taken together with the few other studies on desmosomes these results suggest that the effects of tyrosine phosphorylation on desmosomal adhesion are complex.
PMCID: PMC2634090  PMID: 19262118
desmosome; cell-cell adhesion; intercellular junction; tyrosine phosphorylation; pervanadate; desmoglein; plakoglobin
3.  Desmoglein 3, via an Interaction with E-cadherin, Is Associated with Activation of Src 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14211.
Desmoglein 3 (Dsg3), a desmosomal adhesion protein, is expressed in basal and immediate suprabasal layers of skin and across the entire stratified squamous epithelium of oral mucosa. However, increasing evidence suggests that the role of Dsg3 may involve more than just cell-cell adhesion.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To determine possible additional roles of Dsg3 during epithelial cell adhesion we used overexpression of full-length human Dsg3 cDNA, and RNAi-mediated knockdown of this molecule in various epithelial cell types. Overexpression of Dsg3 resulted in a reduced level of E-cadherin but a colocalisation with the E-cadherin-catenin complex of the adherens junctions. Concomitantly these transfected cells exhibited marked migratory capacity and the formation of filopodial protrusions. These latter events are consistent with Src activation and, indeed, Src-specific inhibition reversed these phenotypes. Moreover Dsg3 knockdown, which also reversed the decreased level of E-cadherin, partially blocked Src phosphorylation.
Our data are consistent with the possibility that Dsg3, as an up-stream regulator of Src activity, helps regulate adherens junction formation.
PMCID: PMC2997060  PMID: 21151980
4.  Desmosomal Cadherin Misexpression Alters β-Catenin Stability and Epidermal Differentiation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(3):969-978.
Desmosomal adhesion is important for the integrity and protective barrier function of the epidermis and is disregulated during carcinogenesis. Strong adhesion between keratinocytes is conferred by the desmosomal cadherins, desmocollin (Dsc) and desmoglein. These constitute two gene families, members of which are differentially expressed in epidermal strata. It has been suggested that this stratum-specific expression regulates keratinocyte differentiation. We tested this hypothesis by misdirecting the expression of the basally abundant desmosomal cadherins Dsc3a and Dsc3b to suprabasal differentiating keratinocytes in transgenic mice. No phenotype was apparent until adulthood, when mice developed variable ventral alopecia and had altered keratinocyte differentiation within affected areas. The follicular changes were reminiscent of changes in transgenic mice with an altered β-catenin stability. Stabilized β-catenin and increased β-catenin transcriptional activity were demonstrated in transgenic mice prior to the phenotypic change and in transgenic keratinocytes as a consequence of transgene expression. Hence, a link between desmosomal cadherins and β-catenin stability and signaling was demonstrated, and it was shown that desmocollin cadherin expression can affect keratinocyte differentiation. Furthermore, the first function for a “b-type” desmocollin cadherin was demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC544013  PMID: 15657425
5.  Suprabasal Desmoglein 3 Expression in the Epidermis of Transgenic Mice Results in Hyperproliferation and Abnormal Differentiation 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(16):5846-5858.
The desmoglein 1 (Dsg1) and desmocollin 1 (Dsc1) isoforms of the desmosomal cadherins are expressed in the suprabasal layers of epidermis, whereas Dsg3 and Dsc3 are more strongly expressed basally. This differential expression may have a function in epidermal morphogenesis and/or may regulate the proliferation and differentiation of keratinocytes. To test this hypothesis, we changed the expression pattern by overexpressing human Dsg3 under the control of the keratin 1 (K1) promoter in the suprabasal epidermis of transgenic mice. From around 12 weeks of age, the mice exhibited flaking of the skin accompanied by epidermal pustules and thinning of the hair. Histological analysis of affected areas revealed acanthosis, hypergranulosis, hyperkeratosis, localized parakeratosis, and abnormal hair follicles. This phenotype has some features in common with human ichthyosiform diseases. Electron microscopy revealed a mild epidermal spongiosis. Suprabasally, desmosomes showed incorporation of the exogenous protein by immunogold labeling but were normal in structure. The epidermis was hyperproliferative, and differentiation was abnormal, demonstrated by expression of K14 in the suprabasal layer, restriction of K1, and strong induction of K6 and K16. The changes resembled those found in previous studies in which growth factors, cytokines, and integrins had been overexpressed in epidermis. Thus our data strongly support the view that Dsg3 contributes to the regulation of epidermal differentiation. Our results contrast markedly with those recently obtained by expressing Dsg3 in epidermis under the involucrin promoter. Possible reasons for this difference are considered in this paper.
PMCID: PMC133994  PMID: 12138195
6.  Class specific inhibition of house dust mite proteinases which cleave cell adhesion, induce cell death and which increase the permeability of lung epithelium 
British Journal of Pharmacology  1998;124(6):1048-1059.
House dust mite (HDM) allergens with cysteine and serine proteinase activity are risk factors for allergic sensitization and asthma. A simple method to fractionate proteinase activity from HDM faecal pellets into cysteine and serine class activity is described.Both proteinase fractions increased the permeability of epithelial cell monolayers. The effects of the serine proteinase fraction were inhibited by 4-(2-aminoethyl)-benzenesulphonyl fluoride hydrochloride (AEBSF) and soybean trypsin inhibitor (SBTI). The effects of the cysteine proteinase fraction could be inhibited by E-64. No reciprocity of action was found.Treatment of epithelial monolayers with either proteinase fraction caused breakdown of tight junctions (TJs). AEBSF inhibited TJ breakdown caused by the serine proteinase fraction, whereas E-64 inhibited the cysteine proteinase fraction.Agarose gel electrophoresis revealed that the proteinases induced DNA cleavage which was inhibited by the matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor BB-250. Compound E-64 inhibited DNA fragmentation caused by the cysteine proteinase fraction, but was without effect on the serine proteinase fraction. Staining of proteinase-treated cells with annexin V (AV) and propidium iodide (PI) revealed a diversity of cellular responses. Some cells stained only with AV indicating early apoptosis, whilst others were dead and stained with both AV and PI.HDM proteinases exert profound effects on epithelial cells which will promote allergic sensitization; namely disruption of intercellular adhesion, increased paracellular permeability and initiation of cell death. Attenuation of these actions by proteinase inhibitors leads to the conclusion that compounds designed to be selective for the HDM enzymes may represent a novel therapy for asthma.
PMCID: PMC1565479  PMID: 9720772
Bronchial epithelium; asthma; allergens; apoptosis; proteinase inhibitors; tight junctions; Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus
7.  Der p 1 facilitates transepithelial allergen delivery by disruption of tight junctions 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1999;104(1):123-133.
House dust mite (HDM) allergens are important factors in the increasing prevalence of asthma. The lung epithelium forms a barrier that allergens must cross before they can cause sensitization. However, the mechanisms involved are unknown. Here we show that the cysteine proteinase allergen Der p 1 from fecal pellets of the HDM Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus causes disruption of intercellular tight junctions (TJs), which are the principal components of the epithelial paracellular permeability barrier. In confluent airway epithelial cells, Der p 1 led to cleavage of the TJ adhesion protein occludin. Cleavage was attenuated by antipain, but not by inhibitors of serine, aspartic, or matrix metalloproteinases. Putative Der p 1 cleavage sites were found in peptides from an extracellular domain of occludin and in the TJ adhesion protein claudin-1. TJ breakdown nonspecifically increased epithelial permeability, allowing Der p 1 to cross the epithelial barrier. Thus, transepithelial movement of Der p 1 to dendritic antigen-presenting cells via the paracellular pathway may be promoted by the allergen’s own proteolytic activity. These results suggest that opening of TJs by environmental proteinases may be the initial step in the development of asthma to a variety of allergens.
PMCID: PMC408401  PMID: 10393706
8.  The Discovery of Potent, Selective, and Reversible Inhibitors of the House Dust Mite Peptidase Allergen Der p 1: An Innovative Approach to the Treatment of Allergic Asthma 
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry  2014;57(22):9447-9462.
Blocking the bioactivity of allergens is conceptually attractive as a small-molecule therapy for allergic diseases but has not been attempted previously. Group 1 allergens of house dust mites (HDM) are meaningful targets in this quest because they are globally prevalent and clinically important triggers of allergic asthma. Group 1 HDM allergens are cysteine peptidases whose proteolytic activity triggers essential steps in the allergy cascade. Using the HDM allergen Der p 1 as an archetype for structure-based drug discovery, we have identified a series of novel, reversible inhibitors. Potency and selectivity were manipulated by optimizing drug interactions with enzyme binding pockets, while variation of terminal groups conferred the physicochemical and pharmacokinetic attributes required for inhaled delivery. Studies in animals challenged with the gamut of HDM allergens showed an attenuation of allergic responses by targeting just a single component, namely, Der p 1. Our findings suggest that these inhibitors may be used as novel therapies for allergic asthma.
PMCID: PMC4257840  PMID: 25365789

Results 1-8 (8)