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Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 2012 Nov-Dec;1(6):879-902. doi: 10.1002/wdev.77. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

The Caenorhabditis elegans epidermis as a model skin. II: differentiation and physiological roles.

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Division of Biological Sciences, Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.


The Caenorhabditis elegans epidermis forms one of the principal barrier epithelia of the animal. Differentiation of the epidermis begins in mid embryogenesis and involves apical-basal polarization of the cytoskeletal and secretory systems as well as cellular junction formation. Secretion of the external cuticle layers is one of the major developmental and physiological specializations of the epidermal epithelium. The four post-embryonic larval stages are separated by periodic moults, in which the epidermis generates a new cuticle with stage-specific characteristics. The differentiated epidermis also plays key roles in endocrine signaling, fat storage, and ionic homeostasis. The epidermis is intimately associated with the development and function of the nervous system, and may have glial-like roles in modulating neuronal function. The epidermis provides passive and active defenses against skin-penetrating pathogens and can repair small wounds. Finally, age-dependent deterioration of the epidermis is a prominent feature of aging and may affect organismal aging and lifespan.


EPITHELIA; MORPHOGENESIS; PAR PROTEINS; barrier epithelia; wound healing

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