Plectin-isoform-specific rescue of hemidesmosomal defects in plectin (-/-) keratinocytes

J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Feb;120(2):189-97. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2003.12027.x.


The various plectin isoforms are among the major crosslinking elements of the cytoskeleton. The importance of plectin in epithelia is convincingly supported by the severe skin blistering observed in plectin-deficient humans and mice. Here, we identified plectin 1a (> 500 kDa), a full length plectin variant containing the sequence encoded by the alternative first exon 1a, as the isoform most prominently expressed in human and mouse keratinocytes. In skin sections and cultured keratinocytes, plectin 1a was shown to colocalize with hemidesmosomal structures. In contrast, a second isoform expressed in epithelia, plectin 1c, differing from 1a merely by a short N-terminal sequence, colocalized with microtubules. Expression of plectin 1a, but not of its N-terminal fragment alone, or of a third alternative full length isoform (plectin 1), restored the reduced number of hemidesmosome-like stable anchoring contacts in cultured plectin-null keratinocytes. Our results show for the first time that different isoforms of a cytolinker protein expressed in one cell type perform distinct functions. Moreover, the identification of plectin 1a as the isoform defects in which cause skin blistering in plectin-related genetic diseases, such as epidermolysis bullosa simplex MD and epidermolysis bullosa simplex Ogna, could have implications for the future development of clinical therapies for patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Blister / physiopathology
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Desmosomes / physiology*
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex / physiopathology
  • Exons
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / analysis
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / chemistry
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / genetics*
  • Isomerism
  • Keratinocytes / chemistry
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Plectin
  • Transfection


  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Plec protein, mouse
  • Plectin