The Notch signalling pathway is an important mediator of cell fate selection whose involvement in epidermal appendage formation is now becoming recognised. Hair follicle development and hair formation involve the co-ordinated differentiation of several different cell types in which Notch appears to have a role. We report intricate expression patterns for the Notch-1 receptor and three ligands, Delta-1, Jagged-1 and Jagged-2 in the hair follicle. Notch-1 is expressed in ectodermal-derived cells of the follicle, in the inner cells of the embryonic placode and the follicle bulb, and in the suprabasal cells of the mature outer root sheath. Delta-1 is only expressed during embryonic follicle development and is exclusive to the mesenchymal cells of the pre-papilla located beneath the follicle placode. Expression of Jagged-1 or Jagged-2 overlaps Notch-1 expression at all stages. In mature follicles, Jagged-1 and Jagged-2 are expressed in complementary patterns in the follicle bulb and outer root sheath, Jagged-1 in suprabasal cells and Jagged-2 predominantly in basal cells. In the follicle bulb, Jagged-2 is localised to the inner (basal) bulb cells next to the dermal papilla which do not express Notch-1, whereas Jagged-1 expression in the upper follicle bulb overlaps Notch-1 expression and correlates with bulb cell differentiation into hair shaft cortical and cuticle keratinocytes.
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