Generalized mutilating recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) is characterized by extreme skin fragility owing to loss of dermal-epidermal adherence. Immunohistochemical studies have implicated type VII collagen, the major component of anchoring fibrils, in the etiology of RDEB. In this study, we demonstrate genetic linkage of the type VII collagen gene and the generalized mutilating RDEB phenotype. We first identified a Pvull polymorphic site by digestion of an amplified product of the type VII collagen gene, which was shown to reside within the coding region. Genetic linkage analysis between this marker and the RDEB phenotype in 19 affected families which were informative for this polymorphism showed no recombination events, and gave a maximum lod score of 3.97 at a recombination fraction (theta) of 0, demonstrating that this DNA region is involved in this form of RDEB. These data provide strong evidence that the type VII collagen gene, which has also been linked with the dominant form of the disease, harbors the mutation(s) causing the generalized mutilating form of RDEB in these families, thus underscoring the major functional importance of type VII collagen in basement membrane zone stability.
A Hovnanian, P Duquesnoy, C Blanchet-Bardon, R G Knowlton, S Amselem, M Lathrop, L Dubertret, J Uitto, M Goossens
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