The distribution of two distinct populations of basement membrane proteoglycans has been monitored through hair growth development in the rat embryo and subsequent hair growth cycle. An antiserum against a small heparan sulfate proteoglycan uniformly stained the dermal-epidermal junction of embryonic rats throughout the period of hair follicle formation. On the other hand, monoclonal antibodies recognizing a basement membrane-specific chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan only weakly stained 16-d embryo dermal-epidermal junction, but strong staining was associated with hair follicle buds as they developed. Through the hair growth cycle, it was found that the heparan sulfate proteoglycan persisted around the follicles, while the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan decreased in amount through catagen until it was undetectable at the base and dermal papilla of the telogen follicle. As anagen commenced, expression of the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan was again demonstrated. It therefore appears that a basement membrane-specific proteoglycan shows variation in its distribution in rat skin, expression correlating with morphogenetic activity in hair follicles. It is possible that this newly described basement membrane component is involved in the complex processes of dermal-epidermal interaction that lead to skin appendage formation and growth.
Keywords: Aggrecans; Animals; Basement Membrane; Embryo, Mammalian; Extracellular Matrix Proteins; Fluorescent Antibody Technique; Glycoproteins; Hair; Heparin; Lectins, C-Type; Proteochondroitin Sulfates; Proteoglycans; Rats; Rats, Inbred Strains; Staining and Labeling