Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PDH) activities were studied during corneal epithelial growth and differentiation in cell culture. LDH and G-6-PDH activities increased up to 60 and 150-fold, respectively, when corneal epithelial cells constituted a differentiated four to five layered epithelium; these increases showed a similar time-course to the expression of K3 keratin. Immunostaining experiments showed that in growing colonies, LDH staining is stronger in those cells that are K3 positive; in contrast, in confluent four to five layered epithelia LDH and K3 were located in all cell layers, similar to the pattern found in frozen sections from rabbit central cornea. During growth and differentiation, the LDH isoenzyme set from corneal epithelial cells did not change; and it was different from those observed in cultured conjunctival, esophageal and epidermal cells. The augment in LDH activity was due to a 25-fold increase in the LDH-H mRNA and a 12-fold augment in LDH-M mRNA. A computer-assisted search led to identify AP2 and Sp1 binding sites in the LDH and G-6-PDH promoters, suggesting that their expression might share common regulatory mechanisms with the regulation of the differentiation-linked keratins. It is proposed that LDH may be an early marker of corneal epithelial differentiation, and its isozyme pattern could be distinctive from other epithelial cell lineages.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.