Researchers have identified a population of “progenitor” cells in the skin that are solely responsible for the generation and maintenance of touch-sensing Merkel cells. The study appears in The Journal of Cell Biology.
Merkel cells are unique cells located in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. Through connections to nerve endings, Merkel cells play critical roles in our sense of touch. They are hypothesized to be the cells that undergo cancerous transformation and cause Merkel cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer with no effective treatment.
Merkel cells require a transcription factor called Atoh1 for their specification. But the identity of the progenitor, or stem cells, that give rise to Merkel cells during embryonic development and adulthood is unclear.
In the study, Stephen Maricich and colleagues identified a subpopulation of Atoh1-expressing cells in hair and whisker follicles within mouse skin that exclusively give rise to Merkel cells during development and adulthood. Removing Atoh1-positive skin cells in adult mice led to a permanent reduction in Merkel cell numbers, showing that other stem cell populations are incapable of producing Merkel cells.
Importantly, the findings suggest that, if Merkel cell carcinoma does arise from Merkel cell progenitors, then Atoh1-positive Merkel cell precursors could be the cells of origin. This discovery will therefore help researchers dissect the cell-specific events mediating tumorigenesis in the particular case of Merkel cell carcinoma.
Wright, M.C., et al. 2015. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.201407101
About The Journal of Cell Biology
The Journal of Cell Biology (JCB) is published by The Rockefeller University Press. All editorial decisions on manuscripts submitted are made by active scientists in conjunction with our in-house scientific editors. JCB content is posted to PubMed Central, where it is available to the public for free six months after publication. Authors retain copyright of their published works, and third parties may reuse the content for non-commercial purposes under a creative commons license. For more information, please visit www.jcb.org
Research reported in the press release was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research.
Rita Sullivan King
Rita Sullivan King | newswise
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy