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Autoantibodies against the epidermal desmosomal cadherins desmoglein 1 (Dsg1) and Dsg3 have been shown to cause severe to lethal skin blistering clinically defined as pemphigus foliaceus (PF) and pemphigus vulgaris (PV). It is unknown whether antibody-induced dissociation of keratinocytes is caused by direct inhibition of Dsg1 transinteraction or by secondary cellular responses. Here we show in an in vitro system that IgGs purified from PF patient sera caused cellular dissociation of cultured human keratinocytes as well as significant release of Dsg1-coated microbeads attached to Dsg-containing sites on the keratinocyte cellular surface. However, cell dissociation and bead release induced by PF-IgGs was not caused by direct steric hindrance of Dsg1 transinteraction, as demonstrated by single molecule atomic force measurements and by laser trapping of surface-bound Dsg1-coated microbeads. Rather, our experiments strongly indicate that PF-IgG–mediated dissociation events must involve autoantibody-triggered cellular signaling pathways, resulting in destabilization of Dsg1-based adhesive sites and desmosomes.