To form the human body and maintain the integrity of its complex tissues, individual cells need to hold tightly to each other. The desmosome is the major type of intercellular adhesive junction, and has desmoglein (Dsg), a cadherin type cell-cell adhesion molecule, as a transmembrane component. Dsg is now known to be targeted in autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, as well as inherited diseases. Patients with pemphigus, an autoimmune blistering disease of the skin and mucous membrane, have IgG autoantibodies directed against Dsg1 and Dsg3. A subset of patients with pemphigus have Dsg1/Dsg4 crossreacting IgG autoantibodies. Exfoliative toxins produced by Staphylococcal aureus, which causes Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome (SSSS) and bullous impetigo, specifically digest Dsgl. A subset of patients with SSSS develop a low titer of anti-Dsgl IgG autoantibodies. A mutation in DSG1 gene causes striate palmoplantar keratoderma and a mutation in DSG4 gene causes inherited hypotrichosis. It is not clear why so many diseases are clustered in desmogleins, but there must be a reason for this. Studies on desmogleins will provide an important framework to understand the mysteries between autoimmunity and infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy