Epidermal calcium-binding protein: a marker of early differentiation of basal layer keratinocytes of rats
Abstract Epidermal calcium-binding protein (ECaBP) is present in the cells of the basal layer of the epidermis and other stratified epithelia. Since the basal layer compartment contains at least two types of cells: slow-cycling, poorly-differentiated, and actively proliferating, more differentiated cells, it was of interest to determine whether they both contained ECaBP. Basal and nearly suprabasal layer keratinocytes from newborn rat epidermis were fractionated into three fractions on the basis of cell size, using low-gravity sedimentation. The cell differentiation in each subgroup was estimated by cell size, morphology, cell cycle stage, RNA/DNA content, and the presence of specific keratins. The presence of ECaBP in these fractions was detected by immunocytochemistry and immunoblotting. Double staining with ECaBP antibodies and propidium iodide followed by flow cytometry was used to correlate ECaBP production and the stage of cell cycle. The relative cell size, measured by the light scattering was used to study the relationship between cell size and ECaBP production. The results show that small keratinocytes with low DNA and RNA content (G 0 cells) do not express ECaBP. ECaBP was found only in intermediate size basal keratinocytes with higher DNA and RNA contents, corresponding to actively proliferating S phase cells. Large keratinocytes, which express suprabasal keratin and have low DNA and high RNA content, cease to express ECaBP. ECaBP may, therefore, be a useful marker for assessing the movement of cells from poorly differentiated reserve compartment towards proliferation and further differentiation in both physiological and pathological situations.
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