The longstanding concept that corneal epithelial stem cells reside mainly in the limbus is supported by the absence of major corneal epithelial differentiation markers, that is, K3 and K12 keratins, in limbal basal cells (these markers are expressed, however, in corneal basal cells, thus distinguishing the mode of keratin expression in corneal epithelium from that of all other stratified epithelia), the centripetal migration of corneal epithelial cells, the exclusive location of slow-cycling cells in the limbal basal layer, the superior in vitro proliferative potential of limbal epithelial cells, and the transplanted limbal cells’ ability to reconstitute corneal epithelium in vivo (reviewed in refs 1–4). Moreover, previous data indicate that corneal and conjunctival epithelia represent two separate cell lineages (reviewed in refs 1–4). Majo et al.5 suggested, however, that corneal and conjunctival epithelia are equipotent, and that identical oligopotent stem cells are present throughout the corneal, limbal and conjunctival epithelia. We point out here that these suggestions are inconsistent with many known growth, differentiation and cell migration properties of the anterior ocular epithelia.
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Competing financial interests: declared none.
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Sun, TT., Tseng, S. & Lavker, R. Location of corneal epithelial stem cells. Nature 463, E10–E11 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08805
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