Ardesjö-Lundgren B, Tengvall K, Bergvall K, Farias FHG, Wang L, Hedhammar Å, Lindblad-Toh K, Andersson G
Vet. Dermatol. 28 (4) 377-e88 [2017-08-00; online 2017-04-06]
Canine atopic dermatitis (CAD) is an inflammatory and pruritic allergic skin disease caused by interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Previously, a genome-wide significant risk locus on canine chromosome 27 for CAD was identified in German shepherd dogs (GSDs) and Plakophilin-2 (PKP2) was defined as the top candidate gene. PKP2 constitutes a crucial component of desmosomes and also is important in signalling, metabolic and transcriptional activities. The main objective was to evaluate the role of PKP2 in CAD by investigating PKP2 expression and desmosome structure in nonlesional skin from CAD-affected (carrying the top GWAS SNP risk allele) and healthy GSDs. We also aimed at defining the cell types in the skin that express PKP2 and its intracellular location. Skin biopsies were collected from nine CAD-affected and five control GSDs. The biopsies were frozen for immunofluorescence and fixed for electron microscopy immunolabelling and morphology. We observed the novel finding of PKP2 expression in dendritic cells and T cells in dog skin. Moreover, we detected that PKP2 was more evenly expressed within keratinocytes compared to its desmosomal binding-partner plakoglobin. PKP2 protein was located in the nucleus and on keratin filaments attached to desmosomes. No difference in PKP2 abundance between CAD cases and controls was observed. Plakophilin-2 protein in dog skin is expressed in both epithelial and immune cells; based on its subcellular location its functional role is implicated in both nuclear and structural processes.