In postnatal skin the transcription factor Sox2 is expressed in the dermal papilla (DP) of guard/awl/auchene hair follicles and by mechanosensory Merkel cells in the touch domes of guard hairs. To investigate the consequences of Sox2 ablation in skin we deleted Sox2 in DP cells via Blimp1Cre and in Merkel cells via K14Cre. Loss of Sox2 from the DP did not inhibit hair follicle morphogenesis or establishment of the dermis and hypodermis. However, Sox2 expression in the DP was necessary for postnatal maintenance of awl/auchene hair follicles. Deletion of Sox2 via K14Cre resulted in a decreased number of Merkel cells but had no effect on other epithelial compartments or on the dermis. The reduced number of Merkel cells did not affect the number or patterning of guard hairs, nerve density or the interaction of nerve cells with the touch domes. We conclude that Sox2 is a marker of two distinct lineages in the skin and regulates the number of differentiated cells in the case of the Merkel cell lineage and hair follicle type in the case of the DP.
Keywords: Dermal papilla; Merkel cell; Stem cell.
© 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.