Association of Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex With Mottled Pigmentation and EXPH5 Mutations

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Epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) is a group of clinically and genetically diverse mechanobullous genodermatoses characterized by the fragility of skin and mucous membranes. Recently, mutations in EXPH5 encoding exophilin-5 (also known as Slac2-b, an effector protein involved in intracellular vesicle trafficking and exosome secretion) have been implicated in the pathophysiology of EBS. Herein, we report a novel homozygous nonsense mutation in EXPH5 responsible for an EBS subtype with mottled pigmentation.


To identify the gene mutation(s) accountable for the mottled pigmentation phenotype in a patient with suspected inherited skin fragility disorder.

Design, Setting, and Participant

Data for this case report were acquired in an outpatient clinic and concern a referral from the primary care physician to the national Center for Blistering Diseases in The Netherlands. Data were acquired and analyzed from 2014 to 2016.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Clinical examination and investigation were performed of the molecular basis of patient’s skin fragility and mottled pigmentation phenotype. Electron microscopy studies described the underlying abnormalities on an ultrastructural level.


The clinical phenotype is characterized by mild generalized skin fragility, trauma-induced skin blistering since infancy, and development of remarkable diffuse mottled pigmentation on the trunk and proximal extremities. Sequencing the complete set of genes associated with epidermolysis bullosa revealed a homozygous nonsense mutation in exon 6 of EXPH5: c.3917C>G, p.Ser1306*. Electron microscopy revealed disruption of keratin filament cytoskeleton and accumulation of melanosomes in a disordered distribution in the keratinocytes.

Conclusions and Relevance

To our knowledge, the current study illustrates the first clinically well-documented, mottled pigmentation phenotype related to a novel EXPH5 mutation. In addition, by means of electron microscopy image analysis, it proposes a hypothesis for the pigmentary changes in this rare autosomal recessive EBS subtype. These findings expand the genetic and phenotypic spectrum of human inherited skin fragility disorders, and we propose the addition of EBS resulting from EXPH5 mutations to the EBS-mottled pigmentation subtype.

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