Immunolocalization of the EDWM-Protein Indicates a Matrix Role in Cornification of Lizard Epidermis

Lorenzo Alibardi


During epidermal differentiation in the scales of lizards and snakes, from the basal layer beta- and later alpha-keratinocytes are generated to form beta-and alpha-corneous layers. In the lizard Anolis carolinensis, minor proteins derived from the EDC (Epidermal Differentiation Complex) are added to the main constituent proteins, IFKs (Intermediate Filament Keratins) and CBPs (Corneous Beta Proteins, formerly indicated as beta keratins). One of these proteins that previous studies showed to be exclusively expressed in the skin, EDWM (EDC protein containing high GSRC amino acids) is rich in cysteine and arginine, amino acids that form numerous –S–S– and electro-static chemical bonds in the corneous material. Light and electron microscopy immunolbeling for EDWM show a diffuse localization in differentiating beta-cells and in some alpha-cells, in particular those of the clear-layer, involved in epidermal shedding. The study suggests that EDWM may function as a matrix protein that binds to IFKs and CBPs, contributing to the formation of the specific corneous material present in beta- and alpha-corneous layers. In particular, its higher immunolocalization in the maturing clear layer indicates that this protein is important for its differentiation and epidermal shedding in A. carolinensis and likely also in other lepidosaurian reptiles.


lizard; epidermal differentiation; Epidermal Differentiation Complex; EDWM-protein; shedding complex; immunocytochemistry

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