Transglutaminase 3 is expressed in basal cell carcinoma of the skin

Artem Smirnov, Lucia Anemona, Manuela Montanaro, Alessandro Mauriello, Margherita Annicchiarico-Petruzzelli, Elena Campione, Gerry Melino, Eleonora Candi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Transglutaminase 3 (TG3) belongs to a family of Ca2+-dependent enzymes which catalyse protein crosslinking. TG3 is important for proper development of the skin and hair shaft, and knockout mice for the Tgm3 gene are sensitive to UVB-induced photodamage due to aberrations in cornified envelope formation. Loss of TG3 is reported in head and neck and oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma, yet, its expression in skin cancer has not been studied. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to analyse the expression pattern of TG3 in skin cancer. Materials and methods: TG3 expression was investigated based on immunohistochemical staining of a tissue micro-array of different types of skin cancer, as well as meta-analysis of public gene array data. Results: Our findings demonstrated that TG3 is normally expressed in spinous/granular layers of the epidermis, but is absent in melanocytes as well as melanoma samples. As expected, its expression was absent in poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Surprisingly, we show that samples of basal cell carcinoma demonstrated strong staining for TG3 both in the cytoplasm and nucleus. Furthermore, at the mRNA level, the expression pattern of TGM3 was crucially altered in BCC, but not other types of skin cancer. Conclusion: These findings lead to new questions regarding TG3 involvement in basal cell carcinoma tumourigenesis. Moreover, the expression pattern of TG3 renders it a potential specific marker for basal cell carcinoma diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-483
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Dermatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2019


  • basal cell carcinoma
  • keratinocytes
  • melanoma
  • skin cancer
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • transglutaminase 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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