Epidermolysis bullosa with pyloric atresia (EB-PA), an autosomal recessive genodermatosis, manifests with neonatal cutaneous blistering associated with congenital pyloric atresia. The disease is frequently lethal, but nonlethal cases have also been reported. Expression of the alpha6 beta4 integrin is altered at the dermal-epidermal basement-membrane zone; recently, mutations in the corresponding genes (ITGA6 and ITGB4) have been disclosed in a limited number of patients, premature termination codons in both alleles being characteristic of lethal variants. In this study, we have examined the molecular basis of EB-PA in five families, two of them with lethal and three of them with nonlethal variants of the disease. Mutation analysis disclosed novel lesions in both ITGB4 alleles of each proband. One of the patients with lethal EB-PA was a compound heterozygote for premature termination-codon mutations (C738X/4791delCA), whereas the other patient with a lethal variant was homozygous for a missense mutation involving a cysteine residue (C61Y). The three nonlethal cases had missense mutations in both alleles (C562R/C562R, R1281W/R252C, and R1281W/R1281W). Immunofluorescence staining of skin in two of the nonlethal patients and in one of the lethal cases was positive, yet attenuated, for alpha6 and beta4 integrins. These results confirm that ITGB4 mutations underlie EB-PA and show that missense mutations may lead to nonlethal phenotypes.
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