Two methods have been used to examine epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor distribution in human scalp and foreskin. The first employed [125I]EGF viable explants and autoradiography to determine the EGF binding pattern while the second used a monoclonal antibody to the human EGF receptor to map the distribution on frozen skin sections of an extracellular epitope on the EGF receptor. The [125I]EGF binding experiments showed accessible, unoccupied EGF receptors to be present on the epidermal basal cells (with reduced binding to spinous cells), the basal cells of the hair shaft and sebaceous gland, the eccrine sweat glands, capillary system, and the hair follicle outer root sheath, generally similar in pattern to that previously reported for full-thickness rat skin and human epidermis. The same areas also bound EGF-R1 but in addition the monoclonal antibody recognized a cone of melanin containing presumptive cortex cells, excluding the medulla, lying around and above the upper dermal papilla of anagen hair follicles, epithelial cells around the lower dermal papilla region, and in some tissue samples the cell margins of the viable differentiating layers of the epidermis. In a control study, to clarify whether EGF-R1 could recognize molecules unrelated to the EGF receptor, the EGF binding and EGF-R1 recognition profiles were compared on cultures of SVK14 cells, a SV40 transformed human keratinocyte cell line. EGF binding and EGF-R1 monoclonal antibody distribution on these cells was found to be similar, indicating that, at least for SVK14 cells, EGF-R1 binding provides a reliable marker for EGF binding. Explanations for the discrepancies between these two methods for determining EGF receptor distribution in human skin are discussed, including the possibility that latent EGF receptors, unable to bind [125I]EGF, may be present in some differentiating epithelial compartments.
Keywords: Antibodies, Monoclonal; Binding Sites; Cell Transformation, Viral; Epidermal Growth Factor; Fluorescent Antibody Technique; Humans; Iodine Radioisotopes; Receptor, Epidermal Growth Factor; Receptors, Cell Surface; Simian virus 40; Skin; Staining and Labeling