Five kinds of monoclonal antibodies that are specific for the epidermis of Xenopus embryos were produced. Epidermis-specific antibodies were used to investigate the spatial and temporal expressions of epidermal antigens during embryonic and larval development. The cells that were recognized by the antibodies at the larval stage are as follows: all of the outer epidermal cells and cement gland cells were recognized by the antibody termed XEPI-1, all of the outer and inner epidermal cells, except the cement gland cells, were recognized by XEPI-2 antibody, the large mucus granules and the apical side of the outer epidermal cells, except for the ciliated epidermal cells, were recognized by XEPI-3 antibody, the large mucus granules and basement membrane were recognized by XEPI-4 antibody, and the small mucus granules contained in the outer epidermal cells as well as extracellular matrices were recognized by the antibody termed XEPI-5. All of the epidermal antigens, except XEPI-4, were first detected in the epidermal region of the late gastrula or early neurula. The XEPI-4 antigen was first detected in stage-26 tail-bud embryos. None of these antigens were expressed by the neural tissues at any time during embryonic development. Only the XEPI-2 antigen continued to be expressed after metamorphosis, while the expression of the other antigens disappeared during or before metamorphosis. The specificity of the antibodies allowed us to classify the epidermal cells into four types in early epidermal development. The four types of epidermal cells are (1) the outer epidermal cells that contain small mucus granules, (2) the ciliated epidermal cells, (3) the outer epidermal cells that contain large mucus granules and (4) the inner sensorial cells.

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