Tissue & cell

Ultrastructural and immunocytochemical detection of keratins and extracellular matrix proteins in lizard skin cultured in vitro.

PMID 22325741


The present study shows the localization of epidermal and dermal proteins produced in lizard skin cultivated in vitro. Cells from the skin have been cultured for up to one month to detect the expression of keratins, actin, vimentin and extracellular matrix proteins (fibronectin, chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan, elastin and collagen I). Keratinocytes and dermal cells weakly immunoreact for Pan-Cytokeratin but not with the K17-antibody at the beginning of the cell culture when numerous keratin bundles are present in keratinocyte cytoplasm. The dense keratin network disappears after 7-12 days in culture, and K17 becomes detectable in both keratinocytes and mesenchymal cells isolated from the dermis. While most epidermal cells are lost after 2 weeks of in vitro cultivation dermal cells proliferate and form a pellicle of variable thickness made of 3-8 cell layers. The fibroblasts of this dermal equivalent produces an extracellular matrix containing chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan, collagen I, elastic fibers and fibronectin, explaining the attachment of the pellicle to the substratum. The study indicates that after improving keratinocyte survival a skin equivalent for lizard epidermis would be feasible as a useful tool to analyze the influence of the dermis on the process of epidermal differentiation and the control of the shedding cycle in squamates.