Determining the Cellular Mechanism Involved in PemphigusVulgaris-Induced Desmoglein 3 Internalization and DesmosomalDisassembly Open Access

Delva, Emmanuella (2009)

Permanent URL:


Desmosomes are electron-dense intercellular adhesive complexes, responsible for maintaining tissue integrity in organs subjected to mechanical stress. They are composed of three families of proteins: the desmosomal cadherins, desmogleins and desmocollins; the armadillo plaque proteins, plakoglobin and plakophilin; and the plakin family of proteins, such as desmoplakin. Together, these proteins tether keratin intermediate filaments to the plasma membrane.

In the autoimmune epidermal blistering disease, pemphigus vulgaris (PV), the autoantibodies primarily target one of the desmosomal cadherins, desmoglein 3 (Dsg3) and in some cases desmoglein 1 (Dsg1). As a result, Dsg3 is internalized, where it enters an endo-lysosomal pathway for degradation. This degradation is associated with retraction of the keratin filaments, mislocalization of desmoplakin, and overall loss of cell-cell adhesion. The first part of the thesis focuses on determining the endocytic machinery involved in PV-induced Dsg3 internalization. The work reported here illustrates that Dsg3 internalization is mediated through a non-classical pathway, independent of clathrin and dynamin. Furthermore, inhibition of Dsg3 endocytosis prevents desmosomal disassembly. These findings, along with previous studies, demonstrate that the internalization of Dsg3 is tightly coupled to desmosomal disassembly in response to PV IgG.

The second part of the thesis addresses the role of the cytoskeletal network, in particular the actin filaments and microtubules, in regulating PV-induced Dsg3 internalization, as studies have implicated a role for the cytoskeleton in vesicular transport. Our preliminary findings suggest that depolymerizing actin results in increased accumulation of Dsg3 in the cytoplasm. Furthermore, depolymerizing microtubules prevents the initial entry of Dsg3 into the cell. These findings suggest that microtubules and actin provide tracks by which Dsg3-containing vesicles are transported from the plasma membrane to early endosomes and from early endosomes to lysosomes, respectively.

Altogether, these studies shed light on the cellular mechanism involved in the desmosomal disassembly and epidermal blistering in response to PV. Moreover, these data underscore the importance of regulating the intricate balance between desmosomal assembly and disassembly, which is important in both the context of pathologies affected by compromised cell-cell adhesion, such as PV, and in normal cellular processes, such as cellular motility, cell morphology, proliferation and differentiation.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
Subfield / Discipline
  • English
Research field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files