Laminin 332-deficient junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB) is a severe genetic skin disease. JEB is marked by epidermal stem cell depletion, the origin of which is unknown. We show that dysregulation of the YAP and TAZ pathway underpins such stem cell depletion. Laminin 332-mediated YAP activity sustains human epidermal stem cells, detected as holoclones. Ablation of YAP selectively depletes holoclones, while enforced YAP blocks conversion of stem cells into progenitors and indefinitely extends the keratinocyte lifespan. YAP is dramatically decreased in JEB keratinocytes, which contain only phosphorylated, inactive YAP. In normal keratinocytes, laminin 332 and α6β4 ablation abolish YAP activity and recapitulate the JEB phenotype. In JEB keratinocytes, laminin 332-gene therapy rescues YAP activity and epidermal stem cells in vitro and in vivo. In JEB cells, enforced YAP recapitulates laminin 332-gene therapy, thus uncoupling adhesion from proliferation in epidermal stem cells. This work has important clinical implication for ex vivo gene therapy of JEB.
Keywords: YAP; cell and gene therapy; epidermal stem cells; epidermolysis bullosa.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.