Epidermal lamellar granules transport different cargoes as distinct aggregates

J Invest Dermatol. 2004 May;122(5):1137-44. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2004.22515.x.


Lamellar granules (LG) of the epidermis appear as discrete round or oblong shaped granules in classical transmission electron micrographs, but a recent cryo-transmission electron microscopy study has claimed that LG are in fact branched tubular structures. LG contain various cargoes including lipids, hydrolytic enzymes, and several other proteins. It is not known whether there are any differences in the timing of expression among them and whether they are sorted into the granules individually or collectively. In order to address these questions, we studied the expression of glucosylceramides (GlcCer), cathepsin D (CatD), corneodesmosin (Cdsn), kallikrein (KLK)7, and KLK8 in normal human epidermis using confocal laser scanning microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy. The results were consistent with the model that LG are parts of a branched tubular structure. In this structure, all the components were shown to be distributed as separate aggregates. In the trans-Golgi network (TGN), bulbous protrusions containing GlcCer, Cdsn, KLK7 and KLK8, and small CatD-positive vesicles were observed. The molecules were shown to be delivered to the apical region of granular keratinocytes. This study provides strong evidence for the sequential synthesis and independent trafficking of various LG cargoes, including for the first time CatD and KLK8, from TGN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cathepsin D / metabolism
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Epidermal Cells*
  • Epidermis / metabolism*
  • Glucosylceramides / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Kallikreins / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Keratinocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • trans-Golgi Network / metabolism
  • trans-Golgi Network / ultrastructure


  • CDSN protein, human
  • Glucosylceramides
  • Glycoproteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • KLK7 protein, human
  • KLK8 protein, human
  • Kallikreins
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • Cathepsin D