Review: mapping epidermal beta-protein distribution in the lizard Anolis carolinensis shows a specific localization for the formation of scales, pads, and claws


The epidermis of lizards is made of multiple alpha- and beta-layers with different characteristics comprising alpha-keratins and corneous beta-proteins (formerly beta-keratins). Three main modifications of body scales are present in the lizard Anolis carolinensis: gular scales, adhesive pad lamellae, and claws. The 40 corneous beta-proteins present in this specie comprise glycine-rich and glycine-cysteine-rich subfamilies, while the 41 alpha-keratins comprise cysteine-poor and cysteine-rich subfamilies, the latter showing homology to hair keratins. Other genes for corneous proteins are present in the epidermal differentiation complex, the locus where corneous protein genes are located. The review summarizes the main sites of immunolocalization of beta-proteins in different scales and their derivatives producing a unique map of body distribution for these structural proteins. Small glycine-rich beta-proteins participate in the formation of the mechanically resistant beta-layer of most scales. Small glycine-cysteine beta-proteins have a more varied localization in different scales and are also present in the pliable alpha-layer. In claws, cysteine-rich alpha-keratins prevail over cysteine-poor alpha-keratins and mix to glycine-cysteine-rich beta-proteins. The larger beta-proteins with a molecular mass similar to that of alpha-keratins participate in the formation of the fibrous meshwork present in differentiating beta-cells and likely interact with alpha-keratins. The diverse localization of alpha-keratins, beta-proteins, and other proteins of the epidermal differentiation complex gives rise to variably pliable, elastic, or hard corneous layers in different body scales. The corneous layers formed in the softer or harder scales, in the elastic pad lamellae, or in the resistant claws possess peculiar properties depending on the ratio of specific corneous proteins.


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