Lis1 is essential for cortical microtubule organization and desmosome stability in the epidermis.
Desmosomes are cell-cell adhesion structures that integrate cytoskeletal networks. In addition to binding intermediate filaments, the desmosomal protein desmoplakin (DP) regulates microtubule reorganization in the epidermis. In this paper, we identify a specific subset of centrosomal proteins that are recruited to the cell cortex by DP upon epidermal differentiation. These include Lis1 and Ndel1, which are centrosomal proteins that regulate microtubule organization and anchoring in other cell types. This recruitment was mediated by a region of DP specific to a single isoform, DPI. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the epidermal-specific loss of Lis1 results in dramatic defects in microtubule reorganization. Lis1 ablation also causes desmosomal defects, characterized by decreased levels of desmosomal components, decreased attachment of keratin filaments, and increased turnover of desmosomal proteins at the cell cortex. This contributes to loss of epidermal barrier activity, resulting in completely penetrant perinatal lethality. This work reveals essential desmosome-associated components that control cortical microtubule organization and unexpected roles for centrosomal proteins in epidermal function.DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201104009