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Keywords:

  • Id2;
  • Id3;
  • Id4;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • hair follicle;
  • vibrissa;
  • development;
  • Merkel cells;
  • subcellular compartments

Abstract

Id proteins are involved in the transcriptional control of many fundamental biological processes, including differentiation and lineage commitment. We studied Id2, Id3, and Id4 protein expression during different stages of rat vibrissa follicle development using immunohistochemistry. Id2 was highly expressed in the cytoplasm of specialized cells in the basal epidermis and outer root sheath during early stages of follicle development. These cells were identified as Merkel cells (MCs) by means of double-immunolabeling with synaptophysin and cytokeratin-20, and persisted in neonatal follicles. Id3 immunofluorescence was characterized by membrane-associated expression in basal epithelial cells of follicles early in development. Subsequently follicle epithelial cells switched to have strong nuclear labeling, also a feature of newly forming dermal papilla cells. Id4 expression was primarily associated with innervation of the developing follicle musculature. These observations illustrate dynamic expression patterns of Id2 and Id3 proteins in developing follicles and specifically link Id2 expression to Merkel cell specification. Developmental Dynamics 237:1653–1661, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.