Signaling Networks among Stem Cell Precursors, Transit-Amplifying Progenitors, and their Niche in Developing Hair Follicles

Cell Rep. 2016 Mar 29;14(12):3001-18. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.02.078. Epub 2016 Mar 19.


The hair follicle (HF) is a complex miniorgan that serves as an ideal model system to study stem cell (SC) interactions with the niche during growth and regeneration. Dermal papilla (DP) cells are required for SC activation during the adult hair cycle, but signal exchange between niche and SC precursors/transit-amplifying cell (TAC) progenitors that regulates HF morphogenetic growth is largely unknown. Here we use six transgenic reporters to isolate 14 major skin and HF cell populations. With next-generation RNA sequencing, we characterize their transcriptomes and define unique molecular signatures. SC precursors, TACs, and the DP niche express a plethora of ligands and receptors. Signaling interaction network analysis reveals a bird's-eye view of pathways implicated in epithelial-mesenchymal interactions. Using a systematic tissue-wide approach, this work provides a comprehensive platform, linked to an interactive online database, to identify and further explore the SC/TAC/niche crosstalk regulating HF growth.

Keywords: big data; dermal papilla; epithelial-mesenchymal interactions; hair follicle; hair growth; progenitors; signaling networks; stem cell niche; stem cells; systems biology; transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Hair Follicle / metabolism*
  • Keratin-14 / genetics
  • Keratin-14 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Stem Cell Niche
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Transcriptome


  • Keratin-14
  • SOX9 Transcription Factor
  • SOX9 protein, human