It is important to maintain internal pH homeostasis in biological systems. In our previous studies, H+-ATPase-rich (HR) cells were found to be responsible for proton secretion in the skin of zebrafish embryos during development. In this study, zebrafish embryos were exposed to acidic and basic waters to investigate the regulation of HR cell acid secretion during pH disturbances. Our results showed that the function of HR cells on the skin of zebrafish embryos can be upregulated in pH 4 water not only by increasing the cell number but also by enlarging the acid-secreting function of single cells. We also identified an "alveolar-type" apical opening under scanning electron microscopy observations of the apical membrane of HR cells, and the density and size of the alveolar type of apical openings were also increased in pH 4 water. p63 and PCNA immunostaining results also showed that additional HR cells in pH 4 water may be differentiated not only from ionocyte precursor cells but also newly proliferating epithelial stem cells.
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