Contributions to Zoology, 76 (4) – 2007Giovanni Delfino; Sara Quagliata; Filippo Giachi; Cecilia Malentacchi: Kugelzellen in larval anuran epidermis: an ultrastructural study on tadpoles of Pelobates cultripes (Pelobatidae) and Phyllobates bicolor (Dendrobatidae)

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Prior to hind limb development, tadpoles of the western spadefoot frog Pelobates cultripes (Pelobatidae) and dart-arrow frog Phyllobates bicolor (Dendrobatidae) possess large clear cells in the basal layer of the epidermis. These cells closely resemble Kugelzellen (KZn) of larval clawed frog, Xenopus laevis (Pipidae) and share ultrastructural traits with Leydig cells (LCs) of Caudata and Caecilia. In both species, KZn possess a transparent cytoplasm and a remarkable peripheral cytoskeleton of tonofilaments: in the arrow frog tonofilaments form bands parallel to the cell surface, in the spadefoot frog thin bundles, arranged in a three-dimensional network. KZn combine turgor (resulting from the hydrated cytoplasm) with stiffness (from peripheral cytoskeleton), thus providing structural stability to the larval epidermis.