The emergence of hair is a defining event during mammalian skin development, but the cellular mechanisms leading to the opening of the hair follicle canal remain poorly characterized. Our previous studies have shown that early hair buds possess a central column of differentiated keratinocytes expressing Keratin 79 (K79), which marks the future hair follicle opening. Here, we report that during late embryogenesis and early postnatal development, K79+ cells at the distal tips of these columns downregulate E-cadherin, change shape, recede and undergo cell death. These changes likely occur independently of sebaceous glands and the growing hair shaft, and serve to create an orifice for hair to subsequently emerge. Defects in this process may underlie phenomena such as ingrown hair, or may potentially contribute to upper hair follicle pathologies including acne, hidradenitis suppurativa and infundibular cysts.
Keywords: Krt79; epidermis; hair canal; infundibulum; skin pore.
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