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

A model for the hierarchical structure of the human epidermal cornified cell envelope.

The epidermal cornified cell envelope (CE) is a 15 nm thick layer of highly insoluble protein that is assembled on the intracellular surface of the cell membrane during terminal differentiation, and comprises about 10% of the mass of the cornified dead layers of the tissue. The CE consists of a complex amalgam of several known proteins that are crosslinked by isodipeptide bonds formed by the action of transglutaminases, but little is known about their order of accretion during CE assembly, or how they are crosslinked. In this paper, CEs purified from human foreskin epidermis were examined by immunogold electron microscopy before and after digestion with proteases.The mass fractions of the proteins remaining in CE remnants during digestion were estimated from the amino acid compositions by mathematical modelling. Together, the data support a new model for the complex hierachical structure of the CE. The cytoplasmic surface of intact purified CEs consists of filaggrin, loricrin, SPRs and keratin intermediate filaments. The bulk of the CE consists of a mixture of loricrin (75%) and SPRs (5%). Following removal of most of these, the novel protein elafin is exposed, which contributes about 6% of CE mass. The protein material on the inner CE 'core' adjacent or attached to the lipid envelope consists of cystatin alpha (5%), involucrin (2%), keratin filaments (3%) and possibly other as yet unidentified protein(s)(2-5%). This model supports but considerably extends an earlier extant hypotheis for CE structure, and thus provides the basis for further detailed biochemical and ultra-structural studies.[1]


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