Zebrafish grainyhead-like1 is a common marker of different non-keratinocyte epidermal cell lineages, which segregate from each other in a Foxi3-dependent manner

Int J Dev Biol. 2010;54(5):837-50. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.092877mj.


Grainyhead/CP2 transcription factor family members are widely conserved among the animal kingdom and have been implicated in different developmental processes. Thus far, nothing has been known about their roles in zebrafish. Here we identify seven zebrafish grainyhead-like (grhl) / cp2 genes, with focus on grhl1, which is expressed in the periderm and in epidermal ionocyte progenitors, but downregulated when ionocytes differentiate. In addition, expression was detected in other "non-keratinocyte" cell types of the epidermis, such as pvalb8-expressing cells, which according to our lineage tracing experiments are derived from the same pool of progenitor cells like keratinocytes and ionocytes. Antisense morpholino oligonucleotide-based loss-of-function analysis revealed that grhl1 is dispensable for the development and function of all investigated epidermal cell types, but required as a negative regulator of its own transcription during ionocyte differentiation. Knockdown of the transcription factor Foxi3a, which is expressed in a subset of the grhl1 population, caused a loss of ionocytes and a corresponding increase in the number of pvalb8-expressing cells, while leaving the number of grhl1-positive cells unaltered. We propose that grhl1 is a novel common marker of all or most "non-keratinocyte" epidermal progenitors, and that the sub-functionalisation of these cells is regulated by differential positive and negative effects of Foxi3 factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Lineage*
  • DNA, Antisense / genetics
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / embryology
  • Epidermis / metabolism*
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Zebrafish / embryology
  • Zebrafish / genetics*
  • Zebrafish / metabolism
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics*
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA, Antisense
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Grhl1 protein, zebrafish
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • foxi3a protein, zebrafish
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins