Cytoskeletal proteins in thymic epithelial cells of the Australian lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri

Mohammad G. Mohammad, David A. Raftos, Jean Joss*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    The vertebrate thymus consists of distinctive subpopulations of epithelial cells that contain a diverse repertoire of cytoskeletal proteins. In this study of the thymus in the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri, immunohistochemistry was used to distinguish the cytoskeletal proteins present in each class of thymic epithelial cell. A panel of antibodies (Abs), each specific for a different cytoskeletal polypeptide (keratins, vimentin, desmin, actin and tubulins), was used on paraffin and ultrathin resin sections of thymus. Ab AE I (reactive against human type I cytokeratins (CK) 14, 16 and 19) selectively stained the cytoplasm of capsular, trabecular and the outermost epithelial cells of Hassall's corpuscles. Anti-CK 10 Abs strongly labelled the capsular epithelial cells and less than 20% of cortical and medullary epithelial cells. The anti-50-kDa desmin Ab did not react with any thymic cells, whereas the anti-53-kDa desmin Ab labelled some capsular, cortical and medullary thymic epithelial cells. The anti-vimentin Ab stained most of the capsular and ∼60% of the cortical epithelium. Thymic nurse cells and Hassall's corpuscles were found to be devoid of actin, which was strongly detected in medullary and perivascular epithelium. Both α and β tubulins were detected in all thymic cells. This study extends the concept of thymic epithelial heterogeneity. The complexity of thymic epithelium in N. forsteri may indicate a relationship between thymic epithelial subpopulations and the thymic microenvironment. These data identify anti-keratin Abs as a valuable tool for studying differentiation and ontogeny of the thymic epithelium in N. forsteri.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)140-152
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Anatomy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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