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Amelexanox enhances premature termination codon read-through in COL7A1 and expression of full length type VII collagen: Potential for recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa

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Velina Atanasova, Qiujie Jiang, Macro Prisco, Christina Gruber, Josefina Piñón Hofbauer, Mei Chen, Cristina Has, Bruckner-Tuderman Leena, John A. McGrath, Jouni Uitto, Andrew P. South

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1842-1849
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number9
Early online date27 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017


King's Authors


Recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) is a rare monogenic blistering disorder caused by the lack of functional type VII collagen, leading to skin fragility and subsequent trauma-induced separation of the epidermis from the underlying dermis. A total of 46% of patients with RDEB harbor at least one premature termination codon (PTC) mutation in COL7A1, and previous studies have shown that aminoglycosides are able to overcome RDEB PTC mutations by inducing “read-through” and incorporation of an amino acid at the PTC site. However, aminoglycoside toxicity will likely prevent widespread clinical application. Here the FDA-approved drug amlexanox was tested for its ability to read-through PTC mutations in cells derived from patients with RDEB. Eight of 12 different PTC alleles responded to treatment and produced full length protein, in some cases more than 50% relative to normal controls. Read-through type VII collagen was readily detectable in cell culture media and also localized to the dermal-epidermal junction in organotypic skin culture. Amlexanox increased COL7A1 transcript and the phosphorylation of UPF-1, an RNA helicase associated with nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, suggesting that amlexanox inhibits nonsense-mediated mRNA decay in cells from patients with RDEB that respond to read-through treatment. This preclinical study demonstrates the potential of repurposing amlexanox for the treatment of patients with RDEB harboring PTC mutation in COL7A1.

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