A group of scientists led by Dr. Elaine Fuchs at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Rockefeller University have uncovered an unexpected new role for the well-known transcription factor, GATA-3, in hair follicle development. GATA-3 was previously identified for its role in coaxing hematopoietic stem cells towards a T-cell fate. Now, Dr. Fuchs and colleagues reveal that GATA-3 is also involved in epidermal stem cell specification. This finding lends valuable insight into hair follicle generation, and highlights intriguing parallels between the molecular cues that direct cell fate specification in the skin and the immune system.
Each of the roughly 5 million hair follicles that cover the adult human body has a similar structure. The hair follicle consists of a multi-layered hair shaft, the outermost layer of which is referred to as the cuticle. Below the skin surface, the cuticle is surrounded by an inner root sheath (IRS).
"The IRS acts as a channel, functioning to guide the developing hair shaft up to the skin surface. Without the channel, the hair does not develop properly," explains professor Fuchs.
Heather Cosel | EurekAlert!
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