The embryonic surface ectoderm is a simple flat epithelium consisting of cells that express the cytokeratins K8/K18. Before stratification, K5/K14 expression substitutes K8/K18 expression, marking the event called epidermal commitment. Previous studies show that the transcription factor p63 plays an essential role in epidermal commitment. However, detailed expression information of p63 during early epidermal development in mice is still unclear. We systematically studied the expression pattern of p63 in mouse epidermal commitment, together with K8 and K5. We show that p63 expression could be detected as early as E8.5 in mouse embryos preceding epidermal commitment. p63 expression first appears near the newly formed somites and the posterior part of the embryo, further expanding to the whole embryonic surface with particular enrichment in the first branchial arches and the limb buds. ΔNp63 is the major class of isoforms expressed in this period. Relative expression intensity of p63 depends on the embryonic position. In summary, there is a sequential and regular expression pattern of K8, p63 and K5 in mouse epidermal commitment. Our study not only contributes to understanding the early events during epidermal development but also provides a basal tool to study the function of p63 in mammals.
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