Molecular basis of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa: mutations in the type VII collagen gene (COL7A1)

Hum Mutat. 1997;10(5):338-47. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-1004(1997)10:5<338::AID-HUMU2>3.0.CO;2-B.


Epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a group of heritable blistering diseases characterized by tissue separation within the cutaneous basement membrane zone, is inherited either in an autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive fashion. EB has been divided into four broad categories based on the precise level of tissue separation. In the dystrophic forms of EB (DEB), tissue separation occurs below the lamina densa within the upper papillary dermis at the level of anchoring fibrils, which are frequently altered in morphology, reduced in number, or entirely absent. Since type VII collagen is the major component of anchoring fibrils, the corresponding gene, COL7A1, was proposed as the candidate for DEB. Subsequent cloning of COL7A1 and elucidation of its genomic structure have led to identification of 53 distinct mutations in COL7A1 reported thus far. These mutations consist of nonsense mutations, small insertions or deletions resulting in frameshift and premature termination codons, splice site mutations, or missense mutations, particularly glycine substitutions within the collagenous domain of the protein. The types and combinations of these mutations and their positions along the type VII collagen molecule result in a spectrum of phenotypic severity and determine the mode of inheritance. Thus, examination of the mutation database has allowed genotype/phenotype predictions, with an impact on genetic counseling in this group of genodermatoses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Collagen / genetics*
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa Dystrophica / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype


  • Collagen