Experimental dermatology

p63-dependent and independent mechanisms of nectin-1 and nectin-4 regulation in the epidermis.

PMID 25387952


Nectins are immunoglobulin-like cell adhesion molecules mainly localized in adherens junctions. The transcription factor p63 is a master regulator of gene expression in stratified epithelia and controls several molecular processes. As mutations in the Pvrl1 and Pvrl4 genes encoding for nectins cause genetic disorders with phenotypes similar to p63-related syndromes, we investigated whether these proteins might be under p63 transcriptional control. Here, we show that in p63-null skin, Pvrl1 gene expression is strongly reduced, whereas Pvrl4 expression is unaffected. In human and mouse primary keratinocytes p63 depletion leads to a specific downregulation of the Pvrl1 gene. Consistent with a direct regulation, chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments (ChIP) indicate that p63 binds to two conserved intronic Pvrl1 enhancer regions. Ankyloblepharon-ectodermal defects-cleft lip/palate (AEC) syndrome is a rare autosomal dominant disorder, caused by mutations in p63 gene, mainly characterized by skin fragility. To test whether nectins may be affected in AEC syndrome, their expression was measured in keratinocytes obtained from patients with AEC or from a conditional mouse model for AEC syndrome. Pvrl1 expression was reduced in AEC keratinocytes, consistent with impaired p63 function. Surprisingly, Pvrl4 expression was similarly affected, in parallel with decreased expression of the transcription factor Irf6. Consistent with the well-characterized role of Irf6 in keratinocyte differentiation and its strong downregulation in AEC syndrome, Irf6 depletion caused reduced expression of Pvrl4 in wild-type keratinocytes. Taken together, our results indicate that Pvrl1 is a bona fide target gene of the transcription factor p63, whereas Pvrl4 regulation is linked to epidermal differentiation and is under Irf6 control.