1997 J Invest Dermatol 1997 ;108 (5):737-42
Laboratory of Experimental Organogenesis, Saint-Sacrement Hospital, Quebec, Canada.

Differential expression of collagens XII and XIV in human skin and in reconstructed skin

Collagens XII and XIV localize near the surface of collagen fibrils and may be involved in epithelial-mesenchymal interactions as well as in the modulation of tissue biomechanical properties. Moreover, human skin fibroblasts cultured in monolayer are known to lose their ability to produce collagen XIV and to switch the transcription of collagen XII from the small splice variant (220 kDa) to the large (320 kDa), whereas the small form is the main form found in human skin. We have investigated the expression patterns of these two molecules in human skin as a function of donor age and anatomic site, by using immunohistology with specific monoclonal antibodies. We demonstrated changes in the expression patterns of collagens XII and XIV in human skin after birth. Moreover, in adult scalp skin, very strong staining of collagen XII fibril bundles was observed around hair follicles, in association with very low expression of collagen XIV. We also investigated the expression of collagens XII and XIV by fibroblasts and keratinocytes cultured in a reconstructed skin. In these culture conditions, fibroblasts recovered their ability to produce collagen XIV and re-expressed the small splice variant of collagen XII. These results could be explained by the deposition of large amounts of collagen fibrils by fibroblasts in this culture system. Thus, the re-expression of these collagens suggests that the deposition of banded collagen fibrils is a pre-requisite for the expression of collagen XIV and small variant of collagen XII.