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J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Nov;121(5):1145-9.

Purinergic receptors are part of a signaling system for keratinocyte proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis in human fetal epidermis.

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Autonomic Neuroscience Institute, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK.


We have investigated the expression of P2X5, P2X7, P2Y1, and P2Y2 receptor subtypes in 8- to 11-wk-old human fetal epidermis in relation to markers of proliferation (proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and Ki-67), keratinocyte differentiation (cytokeratin K10 and involucrin), and markers of apoptosis (TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) and anti-caspase-3). Immunohistochemistry showed that each of the four receptors was expressed in spatially distinct zones of the developing epidermis: P2Y1 receptors were found in the basal layer, P2X5 receptors were predominantly in the basal and intermediate layers, and both P2Y2 and P2X7 receptors were in the periderm. Colocalization experiments suggested different functional roles for these receptors. P2Y1 receptors were found in fetal keratinocytes positive for PCNA and Ki-67, suggesting a role in proliferation. P2X5 receptors double labeled with differentiated fetal keratinocytes that were positive for cytokeratin K10, suggesting a role in differentiation. P2X7 receptors colocalized with anti-caspase-3 antibody and were also expressed in periderm cells positive for TUNEL, suggesting a role in periderm cell apoptosis. P2Y2 receptors were found only in periderm cells and may have a role in chloride and fluid secretion into the amniotic fluid.

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