Herlitz junctional epidermolysis bullosa (H-JEB) provides a promising model for somatic gene therapy of heritable mechano-bullous disorders. This genodermatosis is caused by the lack of laminin-5 that results in absence of hemidesmosomes (HD) and defective adhesion of squamous epithelia. To establish whether re-expression of laminin-5 can restore assembly of the dermal-epidermal attachment structures lacking in the H-JEB skin, we corrected the genetic mutation hindering expression of the beta 3 chain of laminin-5 in human H-JEB keratinocytes by transfer of a laminin beta 3 transgene. The transduced keratinocytes synthesized a recombinant beta 3 polypeptide that assembled with the endogenous laminin alpha 3 and gamma 2 chains into a biologically active laminin-5 that was secreted, processed and deposited into the extracellular matrix. Re-expression of laminin-5 induced cell spreading, nucleation of hemidesmosomal-like structures and enhanced adhesion to the culture substrate. Organotypic cultures performed with the transduced keratinocytes, reconstituted epidermis closely adhering to the mesenchyme and presenting mature hemidesmosomes, bridging the cytoplasmic intermediate filaments of the basal cells to the anchoring filaments of the basement membrane. Our results provide the first evidence of phenotypic reversion of JEB keratinocytes by somatic gene therapy and demonstrate that genetic treatment of the mild forms of skin blistering diseases and other inherited extracellular matrix pathologies is a realistic goal.
Corrective gene transfer of keratinocytes from patients with junctional epidermolysis bullosa restores assembly of hemidesmosomes in reconstructed epithelia / Vailly, J; Gagnoux Palacios, L; Dell'Ambra, E; Roméro, C; Pinola, M; Zambruno, G; DE LUCA, Michele; Ortonne, J. P; Meneguzzi, G.. - In: GENE THERAPY. - ISSN 0969-7128. - 5:(1998), pp. 1322-1332. [10.1038/sj.gt.3300730]