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Development. 2000 Dec;127(24):5487-95.

Adult corneal epithelium basal cells possess the capacity to activate epidermal, pilosebaceous and sweat gland genetic programs in response to embryonic dermal stimuli.

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  • 1Equipe Biologie de la Différenciation Epithéliale, UMR CNRS 5538, LEDAC, Institut Albert Bonniot, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.

Abstract

Recent work has shown remarkable plasticity between neural and hematopoeitic, as well as between hematopoeitic and muscle stem cells, depending on environmental stimuli (Fuchs, E. and Segre, J. A. (2000) Cell 100, 143-155). Stem cells give rise to a proliferative transient amplifying population (TA), which is generally considered to be irreversibly committed. Corneal epithelium provides a particularly useful system for studying the ability of TA cells to activate different genetic programs in response to a change in their fibroblast environment. Indeed, corneal stem and TA cells occupy different localities - stem cells at the periphery, and TA cells more central (Lehrer, M. S., Sun, T. T. and Lavker, R. M. (1998) J. Cell Sci. 111, 2867-2875) - and thus can be discretely dissected from each other. It is well known that pluristratified epithelia of cornea and skin display distinct programs of differentiation: corneal keratinocytes express keratin pair K3/K12 and epidermal keratinocytes keratin pair K1-2/K10; moreover, the epidermis forms cutaneous appendages, which express their own set of keratins. In our experiments, central adult rabbit corneal epithelium was thus associated either with a mouse embryonic dorsal, upper-lip or plantar dermis before grafting onto nude mice. Complementary experiments were performed using adult mouse corneal epithelium from the Rosa 26 strain. The origin of the differentiated structures were identified in the first case by Hoechst staining and in the second by the detection of beta-galactosidase activity. The results show that adult central corneal cells are able to respond to specific information originating from embryonic dermis. They give rise first to a new basal stratum, which does not express anymore corneal-type keratins, then to pilosebaceous units, or sweat glands, depending of the dermis, and finally to upper layers expressing epidermal-type keratins. Our results provide the first evidence that a distinct TA cell population can be reprogrammed.

PMID:
11076768
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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