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Malpighian layer[mal′pig·ē·ən ‚lā·ər]
(also stratum germinativum), the innermost layer of the epithelial part of the skin. It consists of several rows of cells principally polyhedral in shape (the prickle cell layer) and a row of cells of prismatic shape that lie on the basal membrane (the basal layer). It was thought that the cells of the Malpighian layer were joined to each other by intercellular bridges; however, electron-microscope research has shown that there are slitlike spaces between the protuberances of neighboring cells. Replacement of the constantly dying surface cells of the epidermis is accomplished by division of the cells of the Malpighian layer.