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

The expression of the 27-kd heat shock protein in keratinization disorders: an immunohistological study.

In human skin, the 27-kd heat shock protein ( hsp27), a member of the small hsp family, is expressed mainly in the upper epidermal layers. Hsp27 functions as a molecular chaperone and is involved in the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. According to experimental evidence, epidermal hsp27, through its chaperone function, might play a role in the assembly of keratin filaments and the cornified cell envelope. This study was conducted to assess the expression pattern of hsp27 in a panel of different ichthyoses. Twelve hereditary and acquired skin diseases associated with an ichthyotic phenotype and 2 corresponding mouse models were investigated by immunohistochemistry on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue, using a monoclonal antibody specific for hsp27. In ichthyosis vulgaris, lamellar ichthyosis, Sjögren-Larsson syndrome, Netherton syndrome, and acquired ichthyosiform skin condition, the pattern of hsp27 expression resembles healthy human skin. Hsp27 expression was reduced in bullous ichthyosiform erythroderma and annular epidermolytic ichthyosis, and absent in X-linked recessive ichthyosis (1/3 patients) and congenital hemidysplasia with ichthyosiform nevus and limb defects syndrome (1/1). In X-linked dominant chondrodysplasia, 3 small samples are completely negative and 2 larger samples show a pattern resembling random X inactivation. In the mouse models, tattered and bare patches, representing the murine analogues to X-linked dominant chondrodysplasia and congenital hemidysplasia with ichthyosiform nevus and limb defects syndrome, expression of hsp25 (the murine homologue of hsp27) also showed lyonization, demonstrating a clear-cut link between hsp27 expression and underlying molecular pathology. Our results show that loss of hsp27 is a rare event in human epidermis that is associated with specific genetic defects. Among the cases described here, these defects are either in suprabasal keratins or in enzymes involved in cholesterol biosynthesis. The expression and chaperone function of hsp27 might be modified by low/absent epidermal cholesterol and aberrant substrates (ie, keratins) resulting in protein misfolding, dyskeratosis, and thus contribute to the ichthyotic phenotype.[1]


  1. The expression of the 27-kd heat shock protein in keratinization disorders: an immunohistological study. Jonak, C., Metze, D., Traupe, H., Happle, R., König, A., Trautinger, F. Hum. Pathol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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