Immunolocalization of sulfhydryl oxidase in reptilian epidermis indicates that the enzyme participates mainly to the hardening process of the beta-corneous layer.

PMID 25740419


Reptilian skin is tough and scaled representing an evolutionary adaptation to the terrestrial environment. The presence of sulfhydryl oxidase during the process of hardening of the corneous layer in reptilian epidermis has been analyzed by immunocytochemistry and immunoblotting. Sulfhydryl oxidase-like immunoreactivity of proteins in the 50-65 kDa range of molecular weight is mainly observed in the transitional and pre-corneous layers of crocodilians, chelonian, and in the forming beta-layer of lepidosaurians. The ultrastructural localization of the enzyme by immunogold in lizard epidermis during renewal and resting stages shows that the labeling is mainly distributed in the cytoplasm and along the accumulating beta-packets of differentiating beta-cells while it appears very low to undetectable in differentiating alpha-cells of the lacunar, clear, mesos, and alpha-layers. The labeling however becomes absent or undetectable also in the fully mature beta-layer. The study shows that an oxidative enzyme is likely responsible of the cross-linking of the numerous cysteines present in the main proteins accumulated in corneocytes of reptilian epidermis, known as corneous beta-proteins (beta-keratins). This process of disulphide bond formation is probably largely responsible for the formation of hard beta-corneous layers in reptilian scales, a difference with alpha-corneous layers where substrate proteins of transglutaminase appear predominant.