Background Epidermolytic hyperkeratosis in humans is caused by dominant-negative mutations in suprabasal epidermal keratins 1 and 10. However, spontaneous keratin mutations have not been confirmed in a species other than human.
Objectives To describe an autosomal recessive, mild, nonpalmar/plantar epidermolytic ichthyosis segregating in an extended pedigree of Norfolk terrier dogs due to a splice-site mutation in the gene encoding keratin 10 (KRT10).
Methods Dogs were evaluated clinically, and skin samples were examined by light and electron microscopy. Genomic DNA samples and cDNA from skin RNA were sequenced and defined a mutation in KRT10. Consequences of the mutation were evaluated by assessing protein expression with immunohistochemistry and Western blotting and gene expression with real-time RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction).
Results Adult dogs with the disease had generalized, pigmented hyperkeratosis with epidermal fragility. Light microscopic examination defined epidermolysis with hyperkeratosis; ultrastructural changes included a decrease in tonofilaments and abnormal filament aggregation in upper spinous and granular layer keratinocytes. Affected dogs were homozygous for a single base GT→TT change in the consensus donor splice site of intron 5 in KRT10. Keratin 10 protein was not detected with immunoblotting in affected dogs. Heterozygous dogs were normal based on clinical and histological appearance and keratin 10 protein expression. The mutation caused activation of at least three cryptic or alternative splice sites. Use of the cryptic sites resulted in transcripts containing premature termination codons. One transcript could result in shortening of the proximal portion of the 2B domain before the stutter region. Quantitative real-time PCR indicated a significant decrease in KRT10 mRNA levels in affected dogs compared with wild-type dogs.
Conclusions This disease is the first confirmed spontaneous keratin mutation in a nonhuman species and is the first reported recessive form of epidermolytic hyperkeratosis.