Journal of fish biology

Morphological and functional aspects of the epidermis of the sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus throughout development.

PMID 28543020


The development of the epidermis of sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus along the whole life cycle was studied using conventional staining techniques and lectin histochemistry. The epidermis undergoes variations in morphology and thickness throughout development. The simple cuboidal epithelium found in the epidermis of prolarvae becomes stratified cubic in the adult by increasing the number of cell layers. The cuticle thickness undergoes a steady increase during the larval period. There are changes in the glycoconjugate composition of the three main cell types of the P. marinus epidermis, mucous, granular and skein cells, which are more pronounced after metamorphosis. The Alcian blue-periodic acid Schiff (AB-PAS) histochemical method shows the presence of both acidic and neutral glycoconjugates in the mucous cells, indicating their secretory function. Moreover, lectin analysis reveals a mucous secretion containing glycoconjugates such as sulphated glycosaminoglycans (N-acetylglucosamine and N-acetylgalactosamine) and N-glycoproteins rich in mannose. Although granular cells are AB-PAS negative, they exhibit a similar glycoconjugate composition to the mucous cells. Moreover, granular cells show sialic acid positivity in larvae but this monosaccharide residue is not detected after metamorphosis. The skein cells, a unique cell of lampreys, are negative to AB-PAS staining but they mostly contain l-fucose and sialic acid residues, which also disappear after metamorphosis. The function of the granular and skein cells is still unknown but the role of their glycoconjugate composition is discussed. In addition, a different cellular origin is suggested for these two types of cells.