The terrestrial horned frog, Ceratophrys ornata, lives on a wet substratum and absorbs water through the ventral epidermis; water is lost by evaporation from the dorsal skin. Thus, this species may be useful as a model for determining whether or not skin histology and lectin-binding patterns, indicative of glycoconjugates, are related to skin functions such as osmoregulation and water balance. With this in mind, a histological and lectin-histochemical study was carried out on dorsal and ventral skin of aquatic tadpoles and of a young terrestrial frog of C. ornata. Sections of skin were stained with various dyes to demonstrate general histological features and with two horseradish peroxidase (HRP)-conjugated lectins, Ulex europaeus agglutinin (UEA 1) and soybean agglutinin (SBA) which bind to specific terminal sugar residues of glycoconjugates, namely L-fucose and N-acetyl-D-galactosamine or D-galactose, respectively. In early stage tadpoles both lectin-binding patterns were similar in the bilaminar epidermis of dorsal and ventral skin (i.e., each lectin stained the apical cell layer). However, metamorphic changes resulted in a young frog with typical adult-type skin composed of a stratified squamous epidermis and three distinct types of glands containing glycoconjugates in their secretions. Strikingly different lectin-binding patterns were evident in the epidermis from dorsal and ventral regions of the body. The epidermis from the dorsal region was stained by both lectins; in contrast, that from the ventral region although stained strongly by HRP-SBA, did not react with HRP-UEA 1 indicating that few, if any, fucose residues were present in the ventral epidermis. These findings, as suggested in the discussion, indicate that different glycoconjugate patterns in dorsal and ventral skin may be associated with the regulation of water balance in the frog.
Skin Lectin-binding Water uptake Histology Metamorphosis Ceratophrys ornata (Anura)