Improvement of epidermal covering on AEC patients with severe skin erosions by PRIMA-1MET/APR-246

Cell Death Dis. 2020 Jan 16;11(1):30. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-2223-8.


P63 is a major transcription factor regulating skin development and homeostasis. It controls many genes involved in cell proliferation, adhesion, and early differentiation. P63 is mutated in several rare syndromes called p63-related ectodermal dysplasia syndromes (ED). The main forms are EEC and AEC syndromes due to p63 missense mutations on the DBD and SAM domains, respectively. ED patients display many developmental defects, including ectrodactyly, clef/lip palate, and ectodermal dysplasia, while AEC patients suffer from severe skin erosions that not always heal. We have previously showed that ED-derived iPSC display altered epidermal commitment. P63 belongs to the p53 gene family sharing similar structural domains. We found that ED-iPSC epidermal commitment can be rescued by a p53-reactivating compounds called PRIMA-1MET, also named APR-246 and currently used in anticancer clinical trials. Here, we established primary epidermal culture from two AEC children (S.F. and Y.M.) suffering from persistent skin erosions at age of 9 and 15, respectively. These patients carry missense mutations on the SAM domain (I576T and I537T). We found that primary keratinocytes (KCs) isolated from these AEC patients underwent altered epidermal differentiation that was rescued by PRIMA-1MET treatment. It prompted us to formulate the compound onto a cream that was topically applied on the right hand of one patient and on the scalp of the second patient. In both cases, the daily treatment allowed re-epithelialization of the eroded skin and a drastic loss of pain after few weeks, improving quality of life. Normally, mutant p63 exerts a dominant-negative effect, mainly through the formation of aggregate with WT p63 and p73. PRIMA-1MET did not reduce protein aggregation while enhancing cell differentiation, suggesting that PRIMA-1MET targets cell differentiation and not p63 activity directly. In conclusion, we propose that repurposing of the antitumoral PRIMA-1MET compound could become a general treatment of AEC skin erosions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Ectodermal Dysplasia / drug therapy*
  • Ectodermal Dysplasia / genetics
  • Ectodermal Dysplasia / pathology*
  • Epidermis / pathology*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Keratinocytes / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Aggregates / drug effects
  • Quinuclidines / administration & dosage
  • Quinuclidines / pharmacology
  • Quinuclidines / therapeutic use*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism


  • Protein Aggregates
  • Quinuclidines
  • TP63 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • eprenetapopt