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Formation of adherens and communicating junctions coordinate the differentiation of the shedding-layer and beta-epidermal generation in regenerating lizard epidermis


  • Lorenzo Alibardi

    Corresponding author
    1. Comparative Histolab and Dipartimento di Biologia, Geologia e Scienze Ambientali, Universita' di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
    • Correspondence to: Lorenzo Alibardi, Comparative Histolab, Dipartimento di Biologia, Geologia e Scienze Ambientali, Universita' di Bologna, Bologna 40126, Italy. E-mail:

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In the lizard epidermis, the formation of a stratified alpha- and beta-layer, separated by a shedding complex for molting, suggests that keratinocytes communicate in a coordinated manner after they leave the basal layers during the shedding cycle. I have therefore studied the localization of cell junctional proteins such as beta-catenin and connexins 43 and 26 during scale regeneration in lizard using immunocytochemistry. Beta-catenin is also detected in nuclei of basal cells destined to give rise to the Oberhäutchen and beta-cells suggesting activation of the Wnt-pathway during beta-cell differentiation. The observations show that cells of the entire shedding layer (clear and Oberhäutchen) and beta-layer are connected by beta-catenin (adherens junctions) and connexins (communicating junctions) during their differentiation. This likely cell coupling determines the formation of a distinct shedding and beta-layer within the regenerating epidermis. The observed pattern of cell junctional stratification suggests that after departing from the basal layer Oberhäutchen and beta-cells form a continuous communicating compartment that coordinates the contemporaneous differentiation along the entire scale. While the beta-layer matures the junctions are lost while other cell junctions are formed in the following mesos- and alpha-cell layers. This process determines the formation of layers with different texture (harder or softer) and the precise localization of the shedding layer within lizard epidermis. J. Morphol. 275:693–702, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.