Overlapping and divergent localization of Frem1 and Fras1 and its functional implications during mouse embryonic development

Exp Cell Res. 2007 Mar 10;313(5):910-20. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2006.12.008. Epub 2006 Dec 23.


Frem1 belongs to a family of structurally related extracellular matrix proteins of which Fras1 is the founding member. Mutations in Fras1 and Frem1 have been identified in mouse models for Fraser syndrome, which display a strikingly similar embryonic skin blistering phenotype due to impaired dermal-epidermal adhesion. Here we show that Frem1 originates from both epithelial and mesenchymal cells, in contrast to Fras1 that is exclusively derived from epithelia. However, both proteins are localized in an absolutely overlapping fashion in diverse epithelial basement membranes. At the ultrastructural level, Frem1 exhibits a clustered arrangement in the sublamina densa coinciding with fibrillar structures reminiscent of anchoring fibrils. Furthermore, in addition to its extracellular deposition, around E16, Frem1 displays an intracellular distribution in distinct epidermal cell types such as the periderm layer and basal keratinocytes. Since periderm cells are known to participate in temporary epithelial fusions like embryonic eyelid closure, defective function of Frem1 in these cells could provide a molecular explanation for the "eyes open at birth" phenotype, a feature unique for Frem1 deficient mouse mutants. Finally, we demonstrate loss of Frem1 localization in the basement membrane but not in periderm cells in the skin of Fras1(-/-) embryos. Taken together, our findings indicate that besides a cooperative function with Fras1 in embryonic basement membranes, Frem1 can also act independently in processes related to epidermal differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basement Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Embryonic Development
  • Epidermis / embryology
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Eyelids / embryology
  • Eyelids / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Humans
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transfection


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Fras1 protein, mouse
  • Frem1 protein, mouse