Lamellar ichthyosis is a congenital recessive skin disorder characterized by generalized scaling and hyperkeratosis. It is caused by mutations in the TGM1 gene that encodes the transglutaminase 1 (TGase 1) enzyme, which is critical for the assembly of the cornified cell envelope in terminally differentiating keratinocytes. TGase 1 is a complex enzyme existing as both cytosolic and membrane-bound forms. Moreover, TGase 1 is proteolytically processed, and the major functionally active form consists of a membrane-bound 67/33/10-kDa complex with a myristoylated and palmitoylated amino-terminal 10-kDa membrane anchorage fragment. To understand better how point mutations, deletions, and truncations found in lamellar ichthyosis disease affect the structure and function of TGase 1, we have expressed in baculovirus and keratinocytes a number of reported TGase 1 mutants. The structural implications of these mutations were examined using a homologyderived three-dimensional model of TGase 1 generated from the known x-ray structure of the related coagulation factor XIIIa enzyme. The present studies demonstrate that loss of TGase 1 activity is not restricted to mutations that directly affect the enzymatic activity. We report a new class of mutations that impair the subsequent post-synthetic processing of the protein into its highly active functional forms.
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