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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Initiation of assembly of the cell envelope barrier structure of stratified squamous epithelia.

The cell envelope (CE) is a specialized structure that is important for barrier function in terminally differentiated stratified squamous epithelia. The CE is formed inside the plasma membrane and becomes insoluble as a result of cross-linking of constituent proteins by isopeptide bonds formed by transglutaminases. To investigate the earliest stages of assembly of the CE, we have studied human epidermal keratinocytes induced to terminally differentiate in submerged liquid culture as a model system for epithelia in general. CEs were harvested from 2-, 3-, 5-, or 7-d cultured cells and examined by 1) immunogold electron microscopy using antibodies to known CE or other junctional proteins and 2) amino acid sequencing of cross-linked peptides derived by proteolysis of CEs. Our data document that CE assembly is initiated along the plasma membrane between desmosomes by head-to-tail and head-to-head cross-linking of involucrin to itself and to envoplakin and perhaps periplakin. Essentially only one lysine and two glutamine residues of involucrin and two glutamines of envoplakin were used initially. In CEs of 3-d cultured cells, involucrin, envoplakin, and small proline-rich proteins were physically located at desmosomes and had become cross- linked to desmoplakin, and in 5-d CEs, these three proteins had formed a continuous layer extending uniformly along the cell periphery. By this time >15 residues of involucrin were used for cross-linking. The CEs of 7-d cells contain significant amounts of the protein loricrin, typically expressed at a later stage of CE assembly. Together, these data stress the importance of juxtaposition of membranes, transglutaminases, and involucrin and envoplakin in the initiation of CE assembly of stratified squamous epithelia.[1]


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