- stratified epithelium
An epithelium composed of multiple layers of cells, only the basal layer being in contact with the basal lamina (see basement membrane). The basal layer is of stem cells that divide to produce the cells of the upper layers; in skin, these become heavily keratinised before dying and being shed as squames. Stratified epithelia usually have a mechanical/protective role.
Dictionary of molecular biology. 2004.
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