Patients with recessive X-linked ichthyosis, one of the inherited types of excessive stratum corneum cohesion, have deficient steroid sulfatase in fibroblasts grown from their dermis. Because of the expense and long period required to grow such cells, we have assayed this enzyme in peripheral blood leukocytes and found it to be undetectable in those from patients with this type of ichthyosis, but normal in those from patients with other hereditary or acquired types of ichthyosis. In addition, steroid sulfatase activity is less in leukocytes from women who are carriers of this disease than normal women, and this assay can be used to detect such carriers. Despite previous studies demonstrating that the gene for this enzyme escapes the inactivation of other x-chromosome genes, normal women have leukocyte steroid sulfatase activity only 1.3 times that of normal men, suggesting that some gene dosage compensation occurs. Normal human epidermis, the tissue most affected clinically, also expresses steroid sulfatase activity. The epidermal enzyme is similar in its subcellular localization, its molecular size, and kinetically to that of placenta, leukocytes, and fibroblasts.
E H Epstein Jr, M E Leventhal