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Exp Cell Res. 1989 Mar;181(1):141-58.

Expression of hair-related keratins in a soft epithelium: subpopulations of human and mouse dorsal tongue keratinocytes express keratin markers for hair-, skin- and esophageal-types of differentiation.

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Department of Dermatology, New York University Medical School, New York 10016.


The dorsal surfaces of mammalian tongues are covered with numerous projections known as filiform papillae whose morphology varies in different species. Using a panel of monoclonal antibodies to keratins as probes, we have established that, in both human and mouse, the interpapillary epithelia express mainly the "esophageal-type" keratins, while the papillary epithelia express "skin-type" keratins as well as some keratins reacting with a monoclonal antibody (AE13) to hair keratins. The AE13-reactive proteins of the mouse were found to be very similar to those of authentic mouse hair keratins. However, the corresponding protein of human tongue appears to be different from all known human keratins. This protein has a MW of 51K; it is relatively acidic; it is sulfhydryl-rich, as revealed by iodoacetic acid-induced charge and apparent size shift; it shares an epitope with all the known acidic human hair keratins; and it is associated with keratin fibrils in vivo. This protein may therefore be regarded as a novel type I "hard" keratin. These data establish that mammalian dorsal tongue epithelia can be divided into at least three compartments that undergo mainly "esophageal-", "skin-" and "hair"-types of differentiation. Different keratin filaments, e.g., those of the esophageal- and hair-types, exhibit strikingly different degrees of lateral aggregation, which can potentially account for the different physical strength and rigidity of various cellular compartments. Our data also suggest the possibility that variations in papillary structure in human and mouse may arise from different spatial arrangements of specific keratinocytes, and/or from the expression of specialized hair-related keratins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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