Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is a life-threatening autoimmune mucocutaneous blistering disease which is to a large extent genetically determined, and results, at least in part, from the deleterious activity of autoantibodies directed against desmoglein (DSG)3, a prominent intra-epidermal adhesion molecule. Those autoantibodies lead to decreased membranal DSG3 expression in keratinocytes (KCs), thereby destabilizing cell–cell adhesion within the epidermis and leading to blister formation. We previously showed that rs17315309, a strong risk variant for PV within the promoter of the ST18 transcription factor gene, promotes epidermal ST18 up-regulation in a p53/p63-dependent manner. Accordingly, ST18 was found to be overexpressed in the skin of PV patients. Increased ST18 expression was then shown to markedly augment PV autoantibodies-mediated loss of KCs cohesion. Here, we demonstrate that ST18 overexpression significantly increases autoantibody-mediated DSG3 down-regulation in keratinocytes. In addition, DSG3 decreased expression boosts p53 function through p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK) activation and dramatically augments p53-dependent ST18 promoter activity. Finally, the PV risk variant rs17315309 is associated with increased p53 expression in PV skin. Taken collectively, these observations reveal a novel self-amplifying pathomechanism involving ST18, DSG3, p38 and p53, capable of perpetuating disease activity, and therefore indicative of novel actionable molecular targets in PV.