Using a sensitive, specific immunoprecipitation method, the biosynthesis of human skin collagenase was studied in fibroblast cultures from patients with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. Sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of solubilized immunoprecipitates showed two 3H-labeled procollagenase species that comigrated with those harvested from control cultures. Recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa cultures accumulated increased amounts of collagenase. Both the initial rate of accumulation of intracellular enzyme and the rate of secretion were enhanced, suggesting that excessive accumulation is related to increased synthesis. Because the turnover of labeled collagenase was unaltered, the accumulation could not be attributed to diminishing enzyme degradation. No preferential incorporation of [3H]leucine into recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa collagenase occurred. Furthermore, the mutant cultures displayed no alteration in total protein synthesis, the intracellular leucine pool, or the growth kinetics of the cells. Cells from a patient with dominant epidermolysis bullosa did not show enhanced accumulation of collagenase. The levels of collagenase synthesized in vitro correlated with those observed previously in vivo in recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa patients, suggesting that this biochemical trait is pathogenetically significant in the disorder.
K J Valle, E A Bauer