Defining the epithelial stem cell niche in skin

Science. 2004 Jan 16;303(5656):359-63. doi: 10.1126/science.1092436. Epub 2003 Dec 11.


Many adult regenerative cells divide infrequently but have high proliferative capacity. We developed a strategy to fluorescently label slow-cycling cells in a cell type-specific fashion. We used this method to purify the label-retaining cells (LRCs) that mark the skin stem cell (SC) niche. We found that these cells rarely divide within their niche but change properties abruptly when stimulated to exit. We determined their transcriptional profile, which, when compared to progeny and other SCs, defines the niche. Many of the >100 messenger RNAs preferentially expressed in the niche encode surface receptors and secreted proteins, enabling LRCs to signal and respond to their environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Separation
  • Epidermal Cells*
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Hair Follicle / cytology*
  • Hair Follicle / physiology
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Histones
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins