Skin Barrier

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John Common

John obtained his PhD from the Centre for Cutaneous Research, Queen Mary University of London in 2004. His thesis on characterizing the genetic and functional analysis of epidermal connexins was carried out under the supervision of Professor David Kelsell. During this time, John identified a number of connexin mutations associated with skin disorders including novel mutations in GJB4. While in London, he also identified the first recessive mutation in desmoplakin that results in skin disease with cardiomyopathy by microsatellite analysis and candidate gene analysis.

John moved to Singapore in 2005 for his Postdoctoral training with Birgit Lane in the Epithelial Biology Programme, Institute of Medical Biology, A*STAR. In Birgit’s lab working closely with clinical collaborators, they established a genetics programme to study rare disorders of the skin and also more common diseases such as acne vulgaris and atopic dermatitis. As a Project Leader in IMB, John is currently focused on studying the genetics and molecular mechanisms of skin barrier regulation in Asian ethnicities.

  Our primary research interest is to study genes and pathways that regulate the formation of the epidermal barrier and what goes wrong in disease.

The genetic basis of human skin diseases is of great interest to scientists and clinicians alike. In the lab we have a number of projects geared towards understanding the mechanisms of both rare and common human epithelial disorders such as atopic dermatitis, ichthyosis, epidermolysis bullosa and acne. By studying patient DNA and tissue we hope to dissect mechanistic pathways important for skin function. Targeting these pathways could be important for the development of new therapeutic treatments.

Working with clinical samples we have identified a spectrum of filaggrin gene mutations that are associated with ichthyosis vulgaris and atopic dermatitis in Singaporean ethnicities. Filaggrin is a central node in skin barrier formation with multiple functions during epidermal terminal differentiation and the formation of an effective skin barrier. To investigate the filaggrin pathway and particularly the mutations identified in Singapore we have now developed reconstituted skin models to study mechanisms of skin barrier formation and barrier disruption during disease.

More recently, we have been studying the microbiome of skin with particular emphasis on skin barrier diseases and subclinical phenotypes such as dry skin. Detailed investigation of host-pathogen interaction is an important step for defining the importance of this highly dynamic symbiosis that maintains skin health and is a focus of the lab.

Group Members

Senior Research Fellows Koh Li Fang
  Vijaya Chandra, Shree
  Simon Denil
Research Fellows Tay Su Ling, Angeline
  Vincent Lim
Postgraduate students  Nathan Wong (ARAP)
  Nichole Giles (ARAP)
Research Officers  Wong Xuan Fei, Colin
Intern (long term) Iswarya Jayakumar

Nakajima S, Nomura T, Common J, Kabashima K. Insights into atopic dermatitis gained from genetically defined mouse models. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019 Jan;143(1):13-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.11.014. Link
Mathyer ME, Quiggle AM, Wong XFCC, Denil SLIJ, Kumar MG, Ciliberto HM, Bayliss SJ, Common JE, de Guzman Strong C. Tiled array-based sequencing identifies enrichment of loss-of-function variants in the highly homologous filaggrin gene in African American children with severe atopic dermatitis. Exp Dermatol. 2018 May 23. doi: 10.1111/exd.13691 Link
Fuentes I, Guttmann-Gruber C, Ling Tay AS, Hofbauer JP, Denil SLIJ, Reichelt J, Palisson F, Common JEA, South AP. Reduced microbial diversity is a feature of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa involved skin and wounds. J Invest Dermatol. 2018 May 10. pii: S0022-202X(18)31963-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2018.04.026 Link
Pigors M, Common JEA, Wong XFCC, Malik S, Scott CA, Tabarra N, Liany H, Liu J, Limviphuvadh V, Maurer-Stroh S, Tang MB, Lench N, Margolis DJ, van Heel DA, Mein CA, Novak N, Baurecht H, Weidinger S, McLean WHI, Irvine AD, O'Toole EA, Simpson MA, Kelsell DP. Exome sequencing and rare variant analysis reveals multiple filaggrin mutations in Bangladeshi atopic eczema families and additional risk genes. J Invest Dermatol. 2018 May 29. pii: S0022-202X(18)31990-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2018.05.013 Link
Kheng LH, Rahim AB, Leo VI, Shatarupa D, Lim TC, Uemura T, Igarashi K, Common J, Vardy LA. Polyamine regulator AMD1 promotes cell migration in epidermal wound healing. J Invest Dermatol. 2018 Jun 12. pii: S0022-202X(18)32058-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2018.05.029 Link
Guttmann-Gruber C, Tockner B, Scharler C, Hüttner C, Common JE, Tay ASL, Denil SLIJ, Klausegger A, Trost A, Breitenbach J, Schnitzhofer P, Hofbauer P, Wolkersdorfer M, Diem A, Laimer M, Strunk D, Bauer JW, Reichelt J, Lang R, Piñón Hofbauer J. Low-dose calcipotriol can elicit wound closure, anti-microbial, and anti-neoplastic effects in epidermolysis bullosa keratinocytes. Sci Rep. 2018 Sep 7;8(1):13430. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-31823-6. Link
Corley SM, Mendoza-Reinoso V, Giles N, Singer ES, Common JE, Wilkins MR, Beverdam A. Plau and Tgfbr3 are YAP-regulated genes that promote keratinocyte proliferation. Cell Death Dis. 2018 Oct 31;9(11):1106. doi: 10.1038/s41419-018-1141-5. Link
Kong HH, Andersson B, Clavel T, Common JE, Jackson SA, Olson ND, Segre JA, Traidl-Hoffmann C. Performing Skin Microbiome Research: A Method to the Madness. J Invest Dermatol. 2017 Jan 4. pii: S0022-202X(16)32621-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2016.10.033. Link
Kumar D, Puan KJ, Andiappan AK, Lee B, Westerlaken GH, Haase D, Melchiotti R, Li Z, Yusof N, Lum J, Koh G, Foo S, Yeong J, Alves AC, Pekkanen J, Sun LD, Irwanto A, Fairfax BP, Naranbhai V, Common JE, Tang M, Chuang CK, Jarvelin MR, Knight JC, Zhang X, Chew FT, Prabhakar S, Jianjun L, Wang Y, Zolezzi F, Poidinger M, Lane EB, Meyaard L, Rötzschke O. A functional SNP associated with atopic dermatitis controls cell type-specific methylation of the VSTM1 gene locus. Genome Med. 2017 Feb 20;9(1):18. doi: 10.1186/s13073-017-0404-6 Link
Chourabi M, Liew MS, Lim S, H'mida-Ben Brahim D, Boussofara L, Dai L, Wong PM, Foo JN, Sriha B, Robinson KS, Denil S, Common JE, Mamaï O, Ben Khalifa Y, Bollen M, Liu J, Denguezli M, Bonnard C, Saad A, Reversade B. ENPP1 Mutation Causes Recessive Cole Disease by Altering Melanogenesis. J Invest Dermatol. 2017 Sep 27. pii: S0022-202X(17)32982-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2017.08.045 Link
Salgado G, Ng YZ, Koh LF, Goh CSM, Common JE. Human reconstructed skin xenografts on mice to model skin physiology. Differentiation. 2017 Sep 14;98:14-24. doi: 10.1016/j.diff.2017.09.004. Link
Wong XFCC, Denil SLIJ, Foo JN, Chen H, Tay ASL, Haines RL, Tang MBY, McLean WHI, Sandilands A, Smith FJD, Lane EB, Liu J, Common JEA. Array-based sequencing of filaggrin gene for comprehensive detection of disease-associated variants. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Oct 19. pii: S0091-6749(17)31588-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.10.001. Link
Tan TS, Ng YZ, Badowski C, Dang T, Common JE, Lacina L, Szeverényi I, Lane EB. Assays to Study Consequences of Cytoplasmic Intermediate Filament Mutations: The Case of Epidermal Keratins. Methods Enzymol. 2016;568:219-53. doi: 10.1016/bs.mie.2015.09.030. Link
Kern Rei Chng, Angeline Su Ling Tay, Chenhao Li, Amanda Hui Qi Ng, Jingjing Wang, Bani Kaur Suri, Sri Anusha Matta, Naomi McGovern, Baptiste Janela, Xuan Fei Colin C. Wong, Yang Yie Sio, Bijin Veonice Au, Andreas Wilm, Paola Florez De Sessions, Thiam Chye Lim, Mark Boon Yang Tang, Florent Ginhoux, John E. Connolly, E. Birgitte Lane, Fook Tim Chew, John E. A. Common & Niranjan Nagarajan. Whole metagenome profiling reveals skin microbiome-dependent susceptibility to atopic dermatitis flare. Nature Microbiology 2016;1:16106. doi:10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.106 Link
Odell ID, Flavell RA. Microbiome: Ecology of eczema. Nat Microbiol. 2016 Aug 26;1(9):16135. doi: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.135 Link
Liu H, Li Y, Hung KK, Wang N, Wang C, Chen X, Sheng D, Fu X, See K, Foo JN, Low H, Liany H, Irwan ID, Liu J, Yang B, Chen M, Yu Y, Yu G, Niu G, You J, Zhou Y, Ma S, Wang T, Yan X, Goh BK, Common JE, Lane BE, Sun Y, Zhou G, Lu X, Wang Z, Tian H, Cao Y, Chen S, Liu Q, Liu J, Zhang F. Genome-wide linkage, exome sequencing and functional analyses identify ABCB6 as the pathogenic gene of dyschromatosis universalis hereditaria. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 3;9(2):e87250. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087250. eCollection 2014. PubMed PMID: 24498303; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3911924. Link
Pan J, Yung Chan S, Common JE, Amini S, Miserez A, Birgitte Lane E, Kang L. Fabrication of a 3D hair follicle-like hydrogel by soft lithography. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2013 Nov;101(11):3159-69. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.34628. Epub 2013 Mar 30. PubMed PMID: 23554315. Link
Dreesen O, Chojnowski A, Ong PF, Zhao TY, Common JE, Lunny D, Lane EB, Lee SJ, Vardy LA, Stewart CL, Colman A. Lamin B1 fluctuations have differential effects on cellular proliferation and senescence. J Cell Biol. 2013 Mar 4;200(5):605-17. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201206121. Epub 2013 Feb 25. PubMed PMID: 23439683; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3587829. Link
Sundaram GM, Common JE, Gopal FE, Srikanta S, Lakshman K, Lunny DP, Lim TC, Tanavde V, Lane EB, Sampath P. 'See-saw' expression of microRNA-198 and FSTL1 from a single transcript in wound healing. Nature. 2013 Mar 7;495(7439):103-6. doi: 10.1038/nature11890. Link
Andiappan AK, Foo JN, Choy MW, Chen H, Common JE, Tang MB, van Bever HP, Giam YC, Suri BK, Ramani A, Nilkanth PP, Lane EB, Wang de Y, Chew FT, Liu J. Validation of GWAS loci for atopic dermatitis in a Singapore Chinese population. J Invest Dermatol. 2012 May;132(5):1505-7. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.471. Epub 2012 Feb 9. PubMed PMID: 22318392. Link
Cai SC, Chen H, Koh WP, Common JE, van Bever HP, McLean WH, Lane EB, Giam YC, Tang MB. Filaggrin mutations are associated with recurrent skin infection in Singaporean Chinese patients with atopic dermatitis. Br J Dermatol. 2012 Jan;166(1):200-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10541.x. Epub 2011 Nov 17. PubMed PMID: 21790526. Link
Canning CA, Chan JS, Common JE, Lane EB, Jones CM. Developmental expression of the fermitin/kindlin gene family in Xenopus laevis embryos. Dev Dyn. 2011 Aug;240(8):1958-63. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.22683. PubMed PMID: 21761481. Link
Common JE, Brown SJ, Haines RL, Goh CS, Chen H, Balakrishnan A, Munro CS, Tan AW, Tan HH, Tang MB, Lane EB. Filaggrin null mutations are not a protective factor for acne vulgaris. J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Jun;131(6):1378-80. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.23. Epub 2011 Feb 17. PubMed PMID: 21326297; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3094589. Link
Chen H, Common JE, Haines RL, Balakrishnan A, Brown SJ, Goh CS, Cordell HJ, Sandilands A, Campbell LE, Kroboth K, Irvine AD, Goh DL, Tang MB, van Bever HP, Giam YC, McLean WH, Lane EB. Wide spectrum of filaggrin-null mutations in atopic dermatitis highlights differences between Singaporean Chinese and European populations. Br J Dermatol. 2011 Jul;165(1):106-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10331.x. PubMed PMID: 21428977. Link
Chong KL, Common JE, Lane EB, Goh BK. A novel mutation in the kinase domain of KIT in an Indian family with a mild piebaldism phenotype. J Dermatol Sci. 2010 Sep;59(3):206-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2010.06.009. Epub 2010 Jul 8. PubMed PMID: 20688482. Link
Neoh CY, Chen H, Ng SK, Lane EB, Common JE. A rare connexin 26 mutation in a patient with a forme fruste of keratitis-ichthyosis-deafness (KID) syndrome. Int J Dermatol. 2009 Oct;48(10):1078-81. PubMed PMID: 19785089. Link
Van Bever H, Lane B, Common J. Gene defects and allergy. BMJ. 2009 Jul 9;339:b1203. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b1203. PubMed PMID: 19589814. Link
Goh BK, Common JE, Gan WH, Kumarasinghe P. A case of dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis with wiry scalp hair and digital fibromatosis resulting from a recurrent KRT14 mutation. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2009 Apr;34(3):340-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2008.02950.x. Epub 2008 Nov 24. PubMed PMID: 19040520. Link
Szeverenyi I, Cassidy AJ, Chung CW, Lee BT, Common JE, Ogg SC, Chen H, Sim SY, Goh WL, Ng KW, Simpson JA, Chee LL, Eng GH, Li B, Lunny DP, Chuon D, Venkatesh A, Khoo KH, McLean WH, Lim YP, Lane EB. The Human Intermediate Filament Database: comprehensive information on a gene family involved in many human diseases. Hum Mutat. 2008 Mar;29(3):351-60. PubMed PMID: 18033728. Link
Harper LJ, Piper K, Common J, Fortune F, Mackenzie IC. Stem cell patterns in cell lines derived from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. J Oral Pathol Med. 2007 Nov;36(10):594-603. PubMed PMID: 17944752. Link
Common JE, O'Toole EA, Leigh IM, Thomas A, Griffiths WA, Venning V, Grabczynska S, Peris Z, Kansky A, Kelsell DP. Clinical and genetic heterogeneity of erythrokeratoderma variabilis. J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Nov;125(5):920-7. PubMed PMID: 16297190. Link
Di WL, Gu Y, Common JE, Aasen T, O'Toole EA, Kelsell DP, Zicha D. Connexin interaction patterns in keratinocytes revealed morphologically and by FRET analysis. J Cell Sci. 2005 Apr 1;118(Pt 7):1505-14. Epub 2005 Mar 15. PubMed PMID: 15769851. Link
Common JE, Bitner-Glindzicz M, O'Toole EA, Barnes MR, Jenkins L, Forge A, Kelsell DP. Specific loss of connexin 26 expression in ductal sweat gland epithelium associated with the deletion mutation del(GJB6-D13S1830). Clin Exp Dermatol. 2005 Nov;30(6):688-93. PubMed PMID: 16197390. Link
Common JE, Di WL, Davies D, Kelsell DP. Further evidence for heterozygote advantage of GJB2 deafness mutations: a link with cell survival. J Med Genet. 2004 Jul;41(7):573-5. PubMed PMID: 15235031; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1735824. Link
Common JE, Di WL, Davies D, Galvin H, Leigh IM, O'Toole EA, Kelsell DP. Cellular mechanisms of mutant connexins in skin disease and hearing loss. Cell Commun Adhes. 2003 Jul-Dec;10(4-6):347-51. PubMed PMID: 14681040. Link
Common JE, Becker D, Di WL, Leigh IM, O'Toole EA, Kelsell DP. Functional studies of human skin disease- and deafness-associated connexin 30 mutations. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Nov 15;298(5):651-6. PubMed PMID: 12419304. Link
Di WL, Monypenny J, Common JE, Kennedy CT, Holland KA, Leigh IM, Rugg EL, Zicha D, Kelsell DP. Defective trafficking and cell death is characteristic of skin disease-associated connexin 31 mutations. Hum Mol Genet. 2002 Aug 15;11(17):2005-14. PubMed PMID: 12165562. Link
Rugg EL, Common JE, Wilgoss A, Stevens HP, Buchan J, Leigh IM, Kelsell DP. Diagnosis and confirmation of epidermolytic palmoplantar keratoderma by the identification of mutations in keratin 9 using denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jun;146(6):952-7. PubMed PMID: 12072061. Link
Di WL, Common JE, Kelsell DP. Connexin 26 expression and mutation analysis in epidermal disease. Cell Commun Adhes. 2001;8(4-6):415-8. PubMed PMID: 12064628. Link