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Microsc Res Tech. 1997 Aug 15;38(4):407-12.

Distribution of minor collagens during skin development.

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Institut de Biologie et Chimie des Protéines, CNRS UPR 412, Université Lyon, France.


The skin is a tissue containing a large number of collagen types. Several collagens are restricted at the dermo-epidermal junction, contrarily to others present throughout the dermis. However, the distribution of the dermal collagen varies during embryonic development. In this contribution, we have been interested in the collagen types associated with the major collagenous components of the dermis, which are the collagen types I and III. Type V collagen, which is mixed with collagen types I and III to form heterotypic fibrils, has been studied during mouse embryo development. Transcripts of the alpha 1 (V) gene have been localized by in situ hybridization, on flattened cells of the stratum germinativum first, and then only on dermal cells. The expression of the gene decreases at birth, while the expression of the alpha 1(I) gene remains constant, with, however, a ring of high intensity around hair follicles. Other collagen types (VI, and the fibril-associated collagens XII and XIV) have been studied during calf embryonic development by immunofluorescence and ultrastructural immunogold detection. Type VI collagen appears homogeneously distributed throughout the dermis. Type XII collagen is first widely distributed and becomes restricted in the upper, papillary dermis after 6 months of gestation. Type XIV collagen, on the contrary, is first located as a delicate framework around hair follicles (at 19 weeks of gestation), and progressively invades the whole dermis where it appears abundant just before birth. The different functions of all these collagens are discussed in terms of dermis architecture, mechanical properties and physiology.

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