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Understanding the role of Kindlin-1 loss in the development of squamous cell carcinoma (Brunton 2)

Project lead Prof Valerie Brunton
Organisation University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Partner organizations & collaborators Co-investigators: Dr Adam Byron (biochemistry) University of Edinburgh,
Professor Albena Dinkova-Kostova (cellular medicine) University of Dundee, and
Collaborator: Dr Alan Serrels (cancer / tumour microenvironment) University of Edinburgh
Project budget GBP 230.271,67
Start date / Duration 01. Oct 2020 / 24 months
Funder(s) / Co-Funder(s) DEBRA UK, DEBRA Austria, EB MSAP/EBEP Recommended
Research area Skin cancer & fibrosis

Project details

Short lay summary

Kindler syndrome (KS) is a rare skin disorder that develops early in life. People with KS have skin blistering, and develop thin or papery skin. They are also highly sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and sunburn easily. KS also increases the risk of developing a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. KS occurs due to a genetic mutation in the FERMT1 gene. Mutations in FERMT1 results in the production of a defective protein called Kindlin-1.

Currently there is very little known about why the loss of a functional Kindlin-1 protein in the skin of people with KS increases their risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The group have previously carried out experiments on skin cells grown in the laboratory which has shown that loss of Kindlin-1 sensitises cells to UV radiation. To understand why this happens they will use a mouse model which mimics sun exposure to UV radiation. Using mice in which they can delete the Kindlin-1 protein from the skin, it will help identify UV induced changes that are specifically controlled by loss of Kindlin. The next stage will look at whether loss of Kindlin-1 in the skin leads to increased skin cancer formation following UV exposure

Scientific summary

The 3 aims of this project are:

Aim 1: Do changes in the tissue environment of tumours lacking Kindlin-1 contribute to their growth and metastatic spread?

Aim 2: Do Kindlin-1 binding partners (molecules that interact), regulate cancer (SCC) growth?

Aim 3: Does the loss of Kindlin-1 promote UV-induced skin cancer (SCC) formation?

DEBRA UK previously funded Professor Valerie Brunton at the University of Edinburgh towards research in Kindler Syndrome. To read more about this earlier, completed project.

Strategic relevance

Our research has uncovered important changes in the tumour microenvironment (the normal cells and molecules that surround and support the growth of tumour cells), that are controlled by Kindlin-1. By studying these changes, we hope to gain a better understanding of how we can prevent the development and progression of skin cancer in patients with Kindler syndrome.

More about the project on DEBRA UK's website.


Kindler Syndrome
University of Edinburgh
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