Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein Maintains Cross Talk Between Cells That Control Hair Growth

Date:
February 20, 2008
Source:
Rockefeller University
Summary:
Researchers have identified a signaling molecule that is critical for a type of skin cell, called dermal papilla, to ratchet up or clamp down the activity of genes that give them their molecular identity. Without these signals, these skin cells lose their hair-inducing properties -- findings that may provide a new understanding of how stem cells differentiate.

Hair follicles cannot grow properly (bottom) when a type of skin cell called dermal papilla lacks the receptor that binds BMP, a signaling molecule that, when present, instructs stem cells to trigger hair follicles into action and make hair (top).
Credit: The Rockefeller University

Genes, it turns out, are only as active as the signals that turn them on and off. Now scientists from Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Institute have identified the signaling molecule that ratchets up and clamps down the activity of key genes in dermal papilla, a type of skin cell whose unique collection of proteins ultimately instruct epithelial stem cells to make hair.

Related Articles


The research, which will be published in the February 15 issue of Genes & Development, highlights the cross talk between these two cell types and how this signaling molecule, a protein called BMP, is crucial for this exchange.

Epithelial stem cells nest in the upper portion of the adult hair follicle, and dermal papilla reside nearby in the mesenchymal layer below them. It is thought that the communication signals between the two cell types instruct the stem cells to form hair follicles during embryogenesis, and then, when these follicles have matured, regulate their cycles of hair growth and regeneration. "Scientists don't know how dermal papilla cells are programmed to provide the instructive signals to stem cells, but now we know that BMP signals play a crucial role," says Michael Rendl, who conducted this work while he was a postdoc in Elaine Fuchs's Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development.

For several years, it has been known that BMP signaling must be reduced in order to activate follicle stem cells. "Michael has now uncovered a new twist to the story," says Fuchs, who is Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at Rockefeller and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, "namely that dermal papilla cells appear to receive BMP signals from their surrounding microenvironment and this signaling is required for these two cell types to maintain cross talk."

Fuchs conducted the study with Rendl, who found that BMP6, a member of the BMP family of proteins, orchestrates dermal papilla's signature genes to turn on and off, thereby giving these skin cells their unique collection of proteins and features.

Fuchs's team developed a clever strategy to delete several genes in vitro, ones that encode for the receptor onto which several BMPs bind. They then grafted these genetically engineered dermal papilla cells onto the backs of bald mice to see if these mice would grow hair.

Well, the mice didn't. When dermal papilla cells lacked this receptor, their signature proteins were not expressed and the key signaling that occurs between epithelial stem cells and dermal papilla was impaired. Without this exchange, the hair follicles did not grow or make hair.

Nearly all of the signature proteins that Rendl and Fuchs tested in dermal papilla cells decreased when they deleted the BMP receptor. The exception: BMP6 itself. This increase in BMP6 expression levels suggests that BMP6 is necessary for both locking in dermal papilla's molecular identity as well as maintaining the crosstalk that allows stem cells to receive hair-inducing signals, but it itself is not the signal that stem cells await. This finding also provides clues to the type of signals that follicle stem cells may send to dermal papilla.

What's more, BMP6 specifically maintains the molecular identity of dermal papilla cells. When Rendl and Fuchs induced the BMP pathway in other cell types that respond to BMP signaling, they found that these cells continue to produce the normal amount of their signature proteins. "This was really interesting," says Rendl. "It is likely the case that different signaling pathways, or a combination of them, regulate different sets of genes to give each cell type in the hair follicle its characteristic properties."

Fuchs speculates that "this complex circuitry in BMP signaling may set the foundations for a BMP regulatory clock that drives the hair cycle. If so, we may be one step closer to unlocking nature's secrets to hair growth."

This research was supported in part by the Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative, a collaborative program of three New York City biomedical research institutions -- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medical College.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University. "Protein Maintains Cross Talk Between Cells That Control Hair Growth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080214191451.htm>.
Rockefeller University. (2008, February 20). Protein Maintains Cross Talk Between Cells That Control Hair Growth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080214191451.htm
Rockefeller University. "Protein Maintains Cross Talk Between Cells That Control Hair Growth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080214191451.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins