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Molecular, cellular and histological changes in skin from a larval to an adult phenotype during bony fish metamorphosis

Abstract

Developmental models for skin exist in terrestrial and amphibious vertebrates but there is a lack of information in aquatic vertebrates. We have analysed skin epidermal development of a bony fish (teleost), the most successful group of extant vertebrates. A specific epidermal type I keratin cDNA (hhKer1), which may be a bony-fish-specific adaptation associated with the divergence of skin development (scale formation) compared with other vertebrates, has been cloned and characterized. The expression of hhKer1 and collagen 1α1 in skin taken together with the presence or absence of keratin bundle-like structures have made it possible to distinguish between larval and adult epidermal cells during skin development. The use of a flatfish with a well-defined larval to juvenile transition as a model of skin development has revealed that epidermal larval basal cells differentiate directly to epidermal adult basal cells at the climax of metamorphosis. Moreover, hhKer1 expression is downregulated at the climax of metamorphosis and is inversely correlated with increasing thyroxin levels. We suggest that, whereas early mechanisms of skin development between aquatic and terrestrial vertebrates are conserved, later mechanisms diverge.

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Acknowledgement

We thank Heiddis Smáradóttir of Fiskeldi Eyjafjarðar, IS-600 Akureyri, Iceland, for collecting and providing the halibut samples.

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Correspondence to Deborah M. Power.

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This work was carried out within the project “Arrested development: The Molecular and Endocrine Basis of Flatfish Metamorphosis” (Q5RS-2002-01192) with financial support from the Commission of the European Communities. It does not necessarily reflect the Commission’s views and in no way anticipates its future policy in this area. This project was further supported by Pluriannual funding to CCMAR by the Portuguese Science and Technology Council. M.A. Campinho was sponsored by the Portuguese Ministry of Science (grant no. SFRH/BD/6133/2001).

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Campinho, M.A., Silva, N., Sweeney, G.E. et al. Molecular, cellular and histological changes in skin from a larval to an adult phenotype during bony fish metamorphosis. Cell Tissue Res 327, 267–284 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-006-0262-9

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Keywords

  • Epidermal type I keratin
  • Metamorphosis
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Skin basal epidermal cells
  • Halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus (Teleostei)