Author(s): Epstein SP, Wolosin JM, Asbell PA
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Abstract PURPOSE: Because stem cells exhibit high self-renewal capacity, slow cycling, and high proliferative potential, and one of many markers postulated for epithelial stem cells, p63, is challenged by widespread expression within stem cell-free regions, we examined p63 expression in these stem cell-associated cohorts compared with their controls. METHODS: Rabbit limbocorneal cryosections, cytospun cell-sorted (by fluorescence-activated cell sorter) side population (SP) and low side scatter (LSSC) cells, and limbal epithelial cells over feeders were stained for p63 by indirect immunofluorescence. Clones were fixed and stained daily for 7 days. Image analysis measured p63 intensity, plotting it against colony size. RESULTS: All basal limbal cells were positive for p63, yet only 5\% to 7\% expressed high p63 intensities, 40\% intermediate, and the majority low. Side population cells were less than 1\% of total cells. The average intensity of SP staining was three times that of controls. Subpopulations displaying stemlike features exhibited highest p63 expression. Replication rates of isolated cells differed. Day 5 colonies contained 256 (16 hours/cycle) to two (96 hours/cycle) cells. Whereas all cells were positive for p63, intensity in slow-cycling cells was three to four times that in rapidly proliferating congeners. Increased cell doublings did not decrease fluorescence. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that p63 concentration is maximal in stem cells and decreases with differentiation. High p63 levels seem to correlate with cells of the SP and LSSC phenotypes, indicating high cell stemness. With identification of stem cells, further studies can elucidate their use in supporting ocular surface health.
This article was published in Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics