Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 244, Issue 2, pp 413–429 | Cite as

Epithelial-mesenchymal interactions control basement membrane production and differentiation in cultured and transplanted mouse keratinocytes

  • Axel Bohnert
  • Jürgen Hornung
  • Ian C. Mackenzie
  • Norbert E. Fusenig


The effects of mesenchyme and substratum on epidermal differentiation and formation of a basement membrane (BM) were analyzed in vitro and in vivo. Primary epidermal cell cultures (PEC) from neonatal mice were grown: (1) on plastic culture dishes; (2) on lifted collagen gels, either alone or (3) in recombination with mesenchyme; (4) after reimplantation in vivo either directly on mesenchyme or (5) on collagen interposed between keratinocytes and mesenchyme. Differentiation of the epithelium and formation of a BM were examined by electron microscopy, and expression of BM constituents (type IV collagen, laminin, fibronectin, bullous pemphigoid antigen, and heparan sulfate proteoglycan) by indirect immunofluorescence. PEC on plastic or on collagen gels showed poor differentiation, a structured BM was not visible, and the expression and deposition of BM constituents was incomplete. Upon reimplantation in vivo, differentiation was normalized, expression of BM components complete and a structured BM reformed. This effect does not depend on immediate contact of epidermal cells with mesenchyme. When PEC on collagen gel were similarly associated with dermal mesenchyme in vitro, epidermal differentiation and expression of BM components were almost normalized, but a structured BM was absent. These findings demonstrate that formation of the BM in epidermis is a function of keratinocytes and, like differentiation is subject to mesenchymal control. A structural BM is not a prerequisite but rather an additional criterion of normal epidermal differentiation.

Key words

Epidermis Basement membrane Differentiation Mesenchyme 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Bohnert
    • 1
  • Jürgen Hornung
    • 1
  • Ian C. Mackenzie
    • 2
  • Norbert E. Fusenig
  1. 1.Division of Differentiation and Carcinogenesis in vitroInstitute of Biochemistry, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)HeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.College of DentistryThe University of IowaIowa CityUSA

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