The feather is a complex ectodermal organ with hierarchical branching patterns. It provides functions in endothermy, communication, and flight. Studies of feather growth, cycling, and health are of fundamental importance to avian biology and poultry science. In addition, feathers are an excellent model for morphogenesis studies because of their accessibility, and their distinct patterns can be used to assay the roles of specific molecular pathways. Here we review the progress in aspects of development, regeneration, and evolution during the past three decades. We cover the development of feather buds in chicken embryos, regenerative cycling of feather follicle stem cells, formation of barb branching patterns, emergence of intrafeather pigmentation patterns, interplay of hormones and feather growth, and the genetic identification of several feather variants. The discovery of feathered dinosaurs redefines the relationship between feathers and birds. Inspiration from biomaterials and flight research further fuels biomimetic potential of feathers as a multidisciplinary research focal point. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Animal Biosciences Volume 3 is February 15, 2015. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
Tendons and ligaments exhibit limited regenerative capacity following injury, with damaged tissue being replaced by a fibrotic scar. The physiological role of scar tissue is complex and has been studied extensively. In this study we demonstrate that rat tendons contain a unique subpopulation of cells exhibiting stem cell characteristics, including clonogenicity, multipotency, and self-renewal capacity. Additionally, these putative stem cells expressed markers consistent with neural crest stem cells. Using immunofluorescent labeling, we identified P75+ (p75 neurotrophin receptor) cells in the perivascular regions of native rat tendon. Importantly, P75+ cells were frequently localized near vascular cells expressing ?-smooth muscle actin (SMA+) and increased in number within the peritenon after injury. Ultrastructural analysis showed that perivascular cells detached from vessels in response to injury, migrated into the interstitial space and deposited extracellular matrix (ECM). Characterization of P75+ cells isolated from the scar tissue indicated that this population also expressed the neural crest stem cell markers vimentin, Sox 10, and Snail. In conclusion, our results suggest that neural crest-like stem cells of perivascular origin reside within the rat peritenon and give rise to scar-forming stromal cells following tendon injury.
Regulation of adult stem cells (SCs) is fundamental for organ maintenance and tissue regeneration. On the body surface, different ectodermal organs exhibit distinctive modes of regeneration and the dynamics of their SC homeostasis remain to be unraveled. A slow cycling characteristic has been used to identify SCs in hair follicles and sweat glands; however, whether a quiescent population exists in continuously growing nails remains unknown. Using an in vivo label retaining cells (LRCs) system, we detected an unreported population of quiescent cells within the basal layer of the nail proximal fold, organized in a ring-like configuration around the nail root. These nail LRCs express the hair stem cell marker, keratin 15 (K15), and lineage tracing show that these K15-derived cells can contribute to both the nail structure and peri-nail epidermis, and more toward the latter. Thus, this stem cell population is bifunctional. Upon nail plucking injury, the homeostasis is tilted with these SCs dominantly delivering progeny to the nail matrix and differentiated nail plate, demonstrating their plasticity to adapt to wounding stimuli. Moreover, in vivo engraftment experiments established that transplanted nail LRCs can actively participate in functional nail regeneration. Transcriptional profiling of isolated nail LRCs revealed bone morphogenetic protein signaling favors nail differentiation over epidermal fate. Taken together, we have found a previously unidentified ring-configured population of bifunctional SCs, located at the interface between the nail appendage organ and adjacent epidermis, which physiologically display coordinated homeostatic dynamics but are capable of rediverting stem cell flow in response to injury.
Ectodermal appendages such as feathers, hair, mammary glands, salivary glands, and sweat glands form branches, allowing much-increased surface for functional differentiation and secretion. Here, the principles of branching morphogenesis are exemplified by the mammary gland and feathers.
Feathers are hallmark avian integument appendages, although they were also present on theropods. They are composed of flexible corneous materials made of ?- and ?-keratins, but their genomic organization and their functional roles in feathers have not been well studied. First, we made an exhaustive search of ?- and ?-keratin genes in the new chicken genome assembly (Galgal4). Then, using transcriptomic analysis, we studied ?- and ?-keratin gene expression patterns in five types of feather epidermis. The expression patterns of ?-keratin genes were different in different feather types, whereas those of ?-keratin genes were less variable. In addition, we obtained extensive ?- and ?-keratin mRNA in situ hybridization data, showing that ?-keratins and ?-keratins are preferentially expressed in different parts of the feather components. Together, our data suggest that feather morphological and structural diversity can largely be attributed to differential combinations of ?- and ?-keratin genes in different intrafeather regions and/or feather types from different body parts. The expression profiles provide new insights into the evolutionary origin and diversification of feathers. Finally, functional analysis using mutant chicken keratin forms based on those found in the human ?-keratin mutation database led to abnormal phenotypes. This demonstrates that the chicken can be a convenient model for studying the molecular biology of human keratin-based diseases.
Feathers regenerate from stem cells localized in a region of the follicle indicated as the bulge of the collar. Stem cells are slow cycling cells and some of these cells can be identified after labeling experiments using 5-bromo-deoxyuridine to detect label retaining cells (5BrdU LRCs). The present electron microscopic analysis of 5BrdU LRCs has described the ultrastructural characteristics of small cells present in the bulge region of the follicle in regenerating feathers of chickens that include stem cells. Labeled feather stem cells are smaller than 10 lm in average diameter, possess large nuclei with high nuclear/cytoplasmic ratio, and contain evenly distributed ribosomes, sparse bundles of intermediate filaments, scarce or no endoplasmic reticulum, and few mitochondria. The nuclei are mainly euchromatic with a variable amount of heterochromatin clumps and the nucleoli show developed granular and fibrillar components. These features indicate that feather stem cells are transcriptionally active cells for ribosomal and proteins synthesis. The cell surface of feather stem cells often shows small and irregular folds resembling microvilli in contact with the surrounding cells. The latter characteristics may be related to the exchange of molecules and/or with the migration of stem cells among other epithelial cells of the collar epithelium.
We report the influence of body mass index (BMI) on the biomechanical properties of human prolapsed anterior vaginal wall (AVW) tissue samples. We hypothesize that women with AVW prolapse would have the same vaginal wall biomechanical properties regardless of their weight.
Here, we explore the evolution and development of skin-associated adipose tissue with the goal of establishing nomenclature for this tissue. Underlying the reticular dermis, a thick layer of adipocytes exists that encases mature hair follicles in rodents and humans. The association of lipid-filled cells with the skin is found in many invertebrate and vertebrate species. Historically, this layer of adipocytes has been termed subcutaneous adipose, hypodermis and subcutis. Recent data have revealed a common precursor for dermal fibroblasts and intradermal adipocytes during development. Furthermore, the development of adipocytes in the skin is independent from that of subcutaneous adipose tissue development. Finally, the role of adipocytes has been shown to be relevant for epidermal homoeostasis during hair follicle regeneration and wound healing. Thus, we propose a refined nomenclature for the cells and adipose tissue underlying the reticular dermis as intradermal adipocytes and dermal white adipose tissue, respectively.
Hair follicles have characteristic sizes corresponding to their cycle-specific stage. However, how the anagen hair follicle specifies its size remains elusive. Here, we showed that in response to prolonged ectopic Wnt10b-mediated ?-catenin activation, regenerating anagen hair follicles grew larger in size. In particular, the hair bulb, dermal papilla and hair shaft became enlarged, while the formation of different hair types (Guard, Awl, Auchene and Zigzag) was unaffected. Interestingly, we found that the effect of exogenous WNT10b was mainly on Zigzag and less on the other kinds of hairs. We observed dramatically enhanced proliferation within the matrix, DP and hair shaft of the enlarged AdWnt10b-treated hair follicles compared with those of normal hair follicles at P98. Furthermore, expression of CD34, a specific hair stem cell marker, was increased in its number to the bulge region after AdWnt10b treatment. Ectopic expression of CD34 throughout the ORS region was also observed. Many CD34-positive hair stem cells were actively proliferating in AdWnt10b-induced hair follicles. Importantly, subsequent co-treatment with the Wnt inhibitor, DKK1, reduced hair follicle enlargement and decreased proliferation and ectopic localization of hair stem cells. Moreover, injection of DKK1 during early anagen significantly reduced the width of prospective hairs. Together, these findings strongly suggest that Wnt10b/DKK1 can modulate hair follicle size during hair regeneration.
Lizard skin can produce scales during embryonic development, tail regeneration, and wound healing; however, underlying molecular signaling and extracellular matrix protein expression remains unknown. We mapped cell proliferation, signaling and extracellular matrix proteins in regenerating and developing lizard scales in different body regions with different wound severity. Following lizard tail autotomy (self-amputation), de novo scales regenerate from regenerating tail blastema. Despite topological differences between embryonic and adult scale formation, asymmetric cell proliferation produces the newly formed outer scale surface. Regionally different responses to wounding were observed; open wounds induced better scale regeneration from tail skin than trunk skin. Molecular studies suggest NCAM enriched dermal regions exhibit higher cell proliferation associated with scale growth. ?-catenin may be involved in epidermal scale differentiation. Dynamic tenascin-C expression suggests its involvement in regeneration. We conclude that different skin regions exhibit different competence for de novo scale formation. While cellular and morphogenetic paths differ during development and regeneration of lizard scale formation, they share general proliferation patterns, epithelial-mesenchymal interactions and similar molecular modules composed of adhesion and extracellular matrix molecules.
Hair cycling is modulated by factors both intrinsic and extrinsic to hair follicles. Cycling defects lead to conditions such as aging-associated alopecia. Recently, we demonstrated that mouse skin exhibits regenerative hair waves, reflecting a coordinated regenerative behavior in follicle populations. Here, we use this model to explore the regenerative behavior of aging mouse skin. Old mice (>18 months) tracked over several months show that with progressing age, hair waves slow down, wave propagation becomes restricted, and hair cycle domains fragment into smaller domains. Transplanting aged donor mouse skin to a young host can restore donor cycling within a 3?mm range of the interface, suggesting that changes are due to extracellular factors. Therefore, hair stem cells in aged skin can be reactivated. Molecular studies show that extra-follicular modulators Bmp2, Dkk1, and Sfrp4 increase in early anagen. Further, we identify follistatin as an extra-follicular modulator, which is highly expressed in late telogen and early anagen. Indeed, follistatin induces hair wave propagation and its level decreases in aging mice. We present an excitable medium model to simulate the cycling behavior in aging mice and illustrate how the interorgan macroenvironment can regulate the aging process by integrating both "activator" and "inhibitor" signals.
Avian feathers have robust growth and regeneration capability. To evaluate the contribution of signaling molecules and pathways in these processes, we profiled gene expression in the feather follicle using an absolute quantification approach. We identified hundreds of genes that mark specific components of the feather follicle: the dermal papillae (DP) which controls feather regeneration and axis formation, the pulp mesenchyme (Pp) which is derived from DP cells and nourishes the feather follicle, and the ramogenic zone epithelium (Erz) where a feather starts to branch. The feather DP is enriched in BMP/TGF-? signaling molecules and inhibitors for Wnt signaling including Dkk2/Frzb. Wnt ligands are mainly expressed in the feather epithelium and pulp. We find that while Wnt signaling is required for the maintenance of DP marker gene expression and feather regeneration, excessive Wnt signaling delays regeneration and reduces pulp formation. Manipulating Dkk2/Frzb expression by lentiviral-mediated overexpression, shRNA-knockdown, or by antibody neutralization resulted in dual feather axes formation. Our results suggest that the Wnt signaling in the proximal feather follicle is fine-tuned to accommodate feather regeneration and axis formation.
The hair follicle (HF) regeneration paradigm provides a unique opportunity for studying the collective behavior of stem cells in living animals. Activation of HF stem cells depends on the core inhibitory BMP and activating WNT signals operating within the HF microenvironment. Additionally, HFs receive multilayered signaling inputs from the extrafollicular macroenvironment, which includes dermis, adipocytes, neighboring HFs, hormones, and external stimuli. These activators/inhibitors are integrated across multiple stem-cell niches to produce dynamic hair growth patterns. Because of their pigmentation, these patterns can be easily studied on live shaved animals. Comparing to autonomous regeneration of one HF, populations of HFs display coupled decision making, allowing for more robust and adaptable regenerative behavior to occur collectively. The generic cellular automata model used to simulate coordinated HF cycling here can be extended to study population-level behavior of other complex biological systems made of cycling elements.
Recent progress in epigenetics reveals dynamic chromatin interactions in the nucleus during development, regeneration, reprogramming, and in disease. Higher-order chromatin organization is manifested as changes in the topological distribution of eu-/heterochromatin and in nuclear morphology. We are now able to gain new knowledge about these changes at the genomic level.
Regenerative cycling of hair follicles offers an unique opportunity to explore the role of circadian clock in physiological tissue regeneration. We focused on the role of circadian clock in actively proliferating transient amplifying cells, as opposed to quiescent stem cells. We identified two key sites of peripheral circadian clock activity specific to regenerating anagen hair follicles, namely epithelial matrix and mesenchymal dermal papilla. We showed that peripheral circadian clock in epithelial matrix cells generates prominent daily mitotic rhythm. As a consequence of this mitotic rhythmicity, hairs grow faster in the morning than in the evening. Because cells are the most susceptible to DNA damage during mitosis, this cycle leads to a remarkable time-of-day-dependent sensitivity of growing hair follicles to genotoxic stress. Same doses of ?-radiation caused dramatic hair loss in wild-type mice when administered in the morning, during mitotic peak, compared with the evening, when hair loss is minimal. This diurnal radioprotective effect becomes lost in circadian mutants, consistent with asynchronous mitoses in their hair follicles. Clock coordinates cell cycle progression with genotoxic stress responses by synchronizing Cdc2/Cyclin B-mediated G2/M checkpoint. Our results uncover diurnal mitotic gating as the essential protective mechanism in highly proliferative hair follicles and offer strategies for minimizing or maximizing cytotoxicity of radiation therapies.
Alopecia can be caused by defective formation, defective regeneration, or increased destruction of hair follicles. Much work has elucidated the roles of diffusible morphogens in modulating hair follicle stem cell activities. Recent studies have revealed novel molecular events within the nucleus, which are required for the activation and progression of hair stem cells. These studies will provide new clues and targets for designing therapeutic strategies for hair loss.
Reptiles and fish have robust regenerative powers for tooth renewal. However, extant mammals can either renew their teeth one time (diphyodont dentition) or not at all (monophyodont dentition). Humans replace their milk teeth with permanent teeth and then lose their ability for tooth renewal. Here, we study tooth renewal in a crocodilian model, the American alligator, which has well-organized teeth similar to mammals but can still undergo life-long renewal. Each alligator tooth is a complex family unit composed of the functional tooth, successional tooth, and dental lamina. Using multiple mitotic labeling, we map putative stem cells to the distal enlarged bulge of the dental lamina that contains quiescent odontogenic progenitors that can be activated during physiological exfoliation or artificial extraction. Tooth cycle initiation correlates with ?-catenin activation and soluble frizzled-related protein 1 disappearance in the bulge. The dermal niche adjacent to the dermal lamina dynamically expresses neural cell adhesion molecule, tenascin-C, and other molecules. Furthermore, in development, asymmetric ?-catenin localization leads to the formation of a heterochronous and complex tooth family unit configuration. Understanding how these signaling molecules interact in tooth development in this model may help us to learn how to stimulate growth of adult teeth in mammals.
Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are present in the epidermal layer of the skin, outer root sheath, and hair matrix. To investigate how histone acetylation affects skin morphogenesis and homeostasis, mice were generated with a K14 promoter-mediated reduction of Hdac1 or Hdac2. The skin of HDAC1 null (K14-Cre Hdac1(cKO/cKO)) mice exhibited a spectrum of lesions, including irregularly thickened interfollicular epidermis, alopecia, hair follicle dystrophy, claw dystrophy, and abnormal pigmentation. Hairs are sparse, short, and intermittently coiled. The distinct pelage hair types are lost. During the first hair cycle, hairs are lost and replaced by dystrophic hair follicles with dilated infundibulae. The dystrophic hair follicle epithelium is stratified and is positive for K14, involucrin, and TRP63, but negative for keratin 10. Some dystrophic follicles are K15 positive, but mature hair fiber keratins are absent. The digits form extra hyperpigmented claws on the lateral sides. Hyperpigmentation is observed in the interfollicular epithelium, the tail, and the feet. Hdac1 and Hdac2 dual transgenic mice (K14-Cre Hdac1(cKO/cKO) Hdac2(+/cKO)) have similar but more obvious abnormalities. These results show that suppression of epidermal HDAC activity leads to improper ectodermal organ morphogenesis and disrupted hair follicle regeneration and homeostasis, as well as indirect effects on pigmentation.
How organs are shaped to specific forms is a fundamental issue in developmental biology. To address this question, we used the repetitive, periodic pattern of feather morphogenesis on chicken skin as a model. Avian feathers within a single tract extend from dome-shaped primordia to thin conical structures with a common axis of orientation. From a systems biology perspective, the process is precise and robust. Using tissue transplantation assays, we demonstrate that a "zone of polarizing activity," localized in the posterior feather bud, is necessary and sufficient to mediate the directional elongation. This region contains a spatially well-defined nuclear ?-catenin zone, which is induced by wingless-int (Wnt)7a protein diffusing in from posterior bud epithelium. Misexpressing nuclear ?-catenin randomizes feather polarity. This dermal nuclear ?-catenin zone, surrounded by Notch1 positive dermal cells, induces Jagged1. Inhibition of Notch signaling disrupts the spatial configuration of the nuclear ?-catenin zone and leads to randomized feather polarity. Mathematical modeling predicts that lateral inhibition, mediated by Notch signaling, functions to reduce Wnt7a gradient variations and fluctuations to form the sharp boundary observed for the dermal ?-catenin zone. This zone is also enriched for nonmuscle myosin IIB. Suppressing nonmuscle myosin IIB disrupts directional cell rearrangements and abolishes feather bud elongation. These data suggest that a unique molecular module involving chemical-mechanical coupling converts a pliable chemical gradient to a precise domain, ready for subsequent mechanical action, thus defining the position, boundary, and duration of localized morphogenetic activity that molds the shape of growing organs.
Patterns describe order which emerges from homogeneity. Complex patterns on the integument are striking because of their visibility throughout an organism’s lifespan. Periodic patterning is an effective design because the ensemble of hair or feather follicles (modules) allows the generation of complexity, including regional variations and cyclic regeneration, giving the skin appendages a new lease on life. Spatial patterns include the arrangements of feathers and hairs in specific number, size, and spacing.We explorehowa field of equivalent progenitor cells can generate periodically arranged modules based on genetic information, physical–chemical rules and developmental timing. Reconstitution experiments suggest a competitive equilibrium regulated by activators/inhibitors involving Turing reaction-diffusion. Temporal patterns result from oscillating stem cell activities within each module (microenvironment regulation), reflected as growth (anagen) and resting (telogen) phases during the cycling of feather and hair follicles. Stimulating modules with activators initiates the spread of regenerative hair waves, while global inhibitors outside each module (macroenvironment) prevent this. Different wave patterns can be simulated by cellular automata principles. Hormonal status and seasonal changes can modulate appendage phenotypes, leading to ‘organ metamorphosis’, with multiple ectodermal organ phenotypes generated from the same precursors. We discuss potential novel evolutionary steps using this module-based complexity in several amniote integument organs, exemplified by the spectacular peacock feather pattern. We thus explore the application of the acquired knowledge of patterning in tissue engineering. New hair follicles can be generated after wounding. Hairs and feathers can be reconstituted through self-organization of dissociated progenitor cells.
Tooth renewal is initiated from epithelium associated with existing teeth. The development of new teeth requires dental epithelial cells that have competence for tooth formation, but specific marker genes for these cells have not been identified. Here, we analyzed expression patterns of the transcription factor Sox2 in two different modes of successional tooth formation: tooth replacement and serial addition of primary teeth. We observed specific Sox2 expression in the dental lamina that gives rise to successional teeth in mammals with one round of tooth replacement as well as in reptiles with continuous tooth replacement. Sox2 was also expressed in the dental lamina during serial addition of mammalian molars, and genetic lineage tracing indicated that Sox2(+) cells of the first molar give rise to the epithelial cell lineages of the second and third molars. Moreover, conditional deletion of Sox2 resulted in hyperplastic epithelium in the forming posterior molars. Our results indicate that the Sox2(+) dental epithelium has competence for successional tooth formation and that Sox2 regulates the progenitor state of dental epithelial cells. The findings imply that the function of Sox2 has been conserved during evolution and that tooth replacement and serial addition of primary teeth represent variations of the same developmental process. The expression patterns of Sox2 support the hypothesis that dormant capacity for continuous tooth renewal exists in mammals.
Activation of ?-catenin was shown to be of central importance for hair development and cycling. Recent progress brought more understanding to how Wnt signaling is regulated during hair follicle generation and regeneration, telogen-anagen reentry, and extra-follicular macro-environmental modulation. This new understanding presents multiple possibilities to fine tune Wnt signaling for desired hair growth.
In the process of organogenesis, different cell types form organized tissues and tissues are integrated into an organ. Most organs form in the developmental stage, but new organs can also form in physiological states or following injuries during adulthood. Feathers are a good model to study post-natal organogenesis because they regenerate episodically under physiological conditions and in response to injuries such as plucking. Epidermal stem cells in the collar can respond to activation signals. Dermal papilla located at the follicle base controls the regenerative process. Adhesion molecules (e.g., neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), tenascin), morphogens (e.g., Wnt3a, sprouty, fibroblast growth factor [FGF]10), and differentiation markers (e.g., keratins) are expressed dynamically in initiation, growth and resting phases of the feather cycle. Epidermal cells are shaped into different feather morphologies based on the molecular micro-environment at the moment of morphogenesis. Chicken feather variants provide a rich resource for us to identify genetic determinants involved in feather regeneration and morphogenesis. An example of using genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis to identify alpha keratin 75 as the mutation in frizzled chickens is demonstrated. Due to its accessibility to experimental manipulation and observation, results of regeneration can be analyzed in a comprehensive way. The layout of time dimension along the distal (formed earlier) to proximal (formed later) feather axis makes the morphological analyses easier. Therefore feather regeneration can be a unique model for understanding organogenesis: from activation of stem cells under various physiological conditions to serving as the Rosetta stone for deciphering the language of morphogenesis.
There are major new advancements in the fields of stem cell biology, developmental biology, regenerative hair cycling, and tissue engineering. The time is ripe to integrate, translate, and apply these findings to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Readers will learn about new progress in cellular and molecular aspects of hair follicle development, regeneration, and potential therapeutic opportunities these advances may offer.
Hair follicles facilitate the study of stem cell behavior because stem cells in progressive activation stages, ordered within the follicle architecture, are capable of cyclic regeneration. To study the gene network governing the homeostasis of hair bulge stem cells, we developed a Keratin 15-driven genetic model to directly perturb molecular signaling in the stem cells. We visualize the behavior of these modified stem cells, evaluating their hair-regenerating ability and profile their molecular expression. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-inactivated stem cells exhibit molecular profiles resembling those of hair germs, yet still possess multipotentiality in vivo. These cells also exhibit up-regulation of Wnt7a, Wnt7b, and Wnt16 ligands and Frizzled (Fzd) 10 receptor. We demonstrate direct transcriptional modulation of the Wnt7a promoter. These results highlight a previously unknown intra-stem cell antagonistic competition, between BMP and Wnt signaling, to balance stem cell activity. Reduced BMP signaling and increased Wnt signaling tilts each stem cell toward a hair germ fate and, vice versa, based on a continuous scale dependent on the ratio of BMP/Wnt activity. This work reveals one more hierarchical layer regulating stem cell homeostasis beneath the stem cell-dermal papilla-based epithelial-mesenchymal interaction layer and the hair follicle-intradermal adipocyte-based tissue interaction layer. Although hierarchical layers are all based on BMP/Wnt signaling, the multilayered control ensures that all information is taken into consideration and allows hair stem cells to sum up the total activators/inhibitors involved in making the decision of activation.
A new level of understanding of pigment cell biology and pathology will require the ability to culture and manipulate melanocyte stem cells (MCSCs) in vitro. In this issue, Nishikawa-Torikai et al. report progress toward this end. MCSCs isolated from mouse hair follicles can be expanded in vitro in a feeder-layer culture system. Application to human systems can be expected.
We reported previously that bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7) could induce epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in PC-3 prostate cancer cells grown in tissue culture plates. In this study, we examined BMP7-induced morphological and molecular expression changes that are characteristic of EMT using these cells under both two- (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) culture conditions. Filamentous outgrowths from spheroid structures that were formed from PC-3 cells in 3D cultures were strikingly evident when the spheroids were exposed to extracellular BMP7. This morphological change in 3D was accompanied by down-regulation of E-cadherin, which is an essential adhesion molecule for the integrity of epithelial phenotype. Invasiveness of the cancer cells was significantly enhanced with BMP7 treatment along with activation and up-regulation of proteases such as MMP1, MMP13, and urokinase plasminogen activator. Signal transduction of EMT conversion was examined by the use of certain pathway-specific inhibitors. Of the chemical inhibitors tested, inhibitors of PI3 kinase and Erk were found to suppress BMP-induced morphological changes both in 2D and 3D conditions. These results suggest that, besides the Smad signaling pathways, BMP-induced activation of PI3K and Erk contribute to EMT morphologic conversion of the PC-3 prostate cancer cells. Together, the results support the notion that the complexity of EMT may be better evaluated in terms of both spatial and temporal processes in 3D cell culture models that are physiologically more relevant than the cell growth in tissue culture plates.
Stem cells cycle through active and quiescent states. Large populations of stem cells in an organ may cycle randomly or in a coordinated manner. Although stem cell cycling within single hair follicles has been studied, less is known about regenerative behavior in a hair follicle population. By combining predictive mathematical modeling with in vivo studies in mice and rabbits, we show that a follicle progresses through cycling stages by continuous integration of inputs from intrinsic follicular and extrinsic environmental signals based on universal patterning principles. Signaling from the WNT/bone morphogenetic protein activator/inhibitor pair is coopted to mediate interactions among follicles in the population. This regenerative strategy is robust and versatile because relative activator/inhibitor strengths can be modulated easily, adapting the organism to different physiological and evolutionary needs.
The mythological story of the Golden Fleece symbolizes the magical regenerative power of skin appendages. Similar to the adventurous pursuit of the Golden Fleece by the multi-talented Argonauts, today we also need an integrated multi-disciplined approach to understand the cellular and molecular processes during development, regeneration and evolution of skin appendages. To this end, we have explored several aspects of skin appendage biology that contribute to the Turing activator/inhibitor model in feather pattern formation, the topo-biological arrangement of stem cells in organ shape determination, the macro-environmental regulation of stem cells in regenerative hair waves, and potential novel molecular pathways in the morphological evolution of feathers. Here we show our current integrative biology efforts to unravel the complex cellular behavior in patterning stem cells and the control of regional specificity in skin appendages. We use feather/scale tissue recombination to demonstrate the timing control of competence and inducibility. Feathers from different body regions are used to study skin regional specificity. Bioinformatic analyses of transcriptome microarrays show the potential involvement of candidate molecular pathways. We further show Hox genes exhibit some region specific expression patterns. To visualize real time events, we applied time-lapse movies, confocal microscopy and multiphoton microscopy to analyze the morphogenesis of cultured embryonic chicken skin explants. These modern imaging technologies reveal unexpectedly complex cellular flow and organization of extracellular matrix molecules in three dimensions. While these approaches are in preliminary stages, this perspective highlights the challenges we face and new integrative tools we will use. Future work will follow these leads to develop a systems biology view and understanding in the morphogenetic principles that govern the development and regeneration of ectodermal organs.
Organogenesis involves a series of dynamic morphogenesis and remodeling processes. Since feathers exhibit complex forms, we have been using the feather as a model to analyze how molecular pathways and cellular events are used. While several major molecular pathways have been studied, the roles of matrix degrading proteases and inhibitors in feather morphogenesis are unknown. Here we addressed this knowledge gap by studying the temporal and spatial expression of proteases and inhibitors in developing feathers using mammalian antibodies that cross react with chicken proteins. We also investigated the effect of protease inhibitors on feather development employing an in vitro feather bud culture system. The results show that antibodies specific for mammalian MMP2 and TIMP2 stained positive in both feather epithelium and mesenchyme. The staining co-localized in structures of E10-E13 developing feathers. Interestingly, MMP2 and TIMP2 exhibited a complementary staining pattern in developing E15 and E20 feathers and in maturing feather filaments. Although they exhibited a slight delay in feather bud development, similar patterns of MMP2 and TIMP2 staining were observed in in vitro culture explants. The broad spectrum pharmacological inhibitors AG3340 and BB103 (MMP inhibitors) but not Aprotinin (a plasmin inhibitor) showed a reversible effect on epithelium invagination and feather bud elongation. TIMP2, a physiological inhibitor to MMPs, exhibited a similar effect. Markers of feather morphogenesis showed that MMP activity was required for both epithelium invagination and mesenchymal cell proliferation. Inhibition of MMP activity led to an overall delay in the expression of molecules that regulate either early feather bud growth and/or differentiation and thereby produced abnormal buds with incomplete follicle formation. This work demonstrates that MMPs and their inhibitors are not only important in injury repair, but also in development tissue remodeling as demonstrated here for the formation of feather follicles.
One of the major objectives of tissue engineering is to reconstitute skin from stem cells. This requires multipotent skin stem cells and the ability to guide these cells to form a piece of skin with proper architecture and skin appendages. Based on previous progress, we develop a simplified procedure that can be useful for large-scale screening of factors that can modulate the hair formation ability of candidate cells. Newborn mouse cells are used. Dissociated epidermal and dermal cells in high-density suspension are allowed to reconstitute in vitro to generate its own matrix, or seeded into a scaffold-like matrix already used clinically. These cells self-organize and form a reconstituted skin with proper proportions and topological organization of different components. Large numbers of hair follicles form. The cellular and molecular events are characterized, showing a distinct but parallel morphogenetic process compared to those occurring in embryonic development. The formed hair follicles can cycle and regenerate and the reconstituted skin can heal after injury. The skins are in good condition 1 year after transplant. This procedure enables flexible size and shape of the reconstituted skin, so clinical applications can be envisioned for the future when large numbers of multipotential skin stem cells become available.
In the postgenomic era, systems biology has rapidly emerged as an exciting field predicted to enhance the molecular understanding of complex biological systems by the use of quantitative experimental and mathematical approaches. Systems biology studies how the components of a biological system (e.g. genes, transcripts, proteins, metabolites) interact to bring about defined biological function or dysfunction. Living systems may be divided into five dimensions of complexity: (i) molecular; (ii) structural; (iii) temporal; (iv) abstraction and emergence; and (v) algorithmic. Understanding the details of these dimensions in living systems is the challenge that systems biology aims to address. Here, we argue that the hair follicle (HF), one of the signature features of mammals, is a perfect and clinically relevant model for systems biology research. The HF represents a stem cell-rich, essentially autonomous mini-organ, whose cyclic transformations follow a hypothetical intrafollicular "hair cycle clock" (HCC). This prototypic neuroectodermal-mesodermal interaction system, at the cross-roads of systems and chronobiology, encompasses various levels of complexity as it is subject to both intrafollicular and extrafollicular inputs (e.g. intracutaneous timing mechanisms with neural and systemic stimuli). Exploring how the cycling HF addresses the five dimensions of living systems, we argue that a systems biology approach to the study of hair growth and cycling, in man and mice, has great translational medicine potential. Namely, the easily accessible human HF invites preclinical and clinical testing of novel hypotheses generated with this approach.
We studied the effects of thermal treatment on the expansive characteristics of a coil-within-coil Poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) fiber stent developed at our institution to improve its mechanical performance and reproducibility. Following fabrication, furled stents were thermally treated at 62 degrees C for 25 min. The mechanical characteristics were measured compared with those of untreated stents when both were expanded via sequential balloon catheter pressure loading up to 12 atm. Treated stents reached full diameter at 3 atm and maintained that diameter despite further pressure increases. Using measurements of pressure, diameter, and axial length, we calculated the sequential mechanical work required to unfurl the stent. The mechanical work for complete unfurling of treated stents was significantly less than that required for untreated controls. Little axial dimensional change was observed for treated stents. Treated stents exhibited higher stiffness than controls at all pressure levels and also demonstrated higher resistance to external pressure-induced collapse, as measured in a special apparatus developed in our laboratory. Differential scanning calorimetry measurements indicated higher crystallinity values for fibers used in treated stents compared with controls. SEM examination of striations revealed that treated stents underwent less twist than controls following balloon-induced unfurling. The results indicate that, thermal treatment improves the reorientation and realignment of fiber crystalline structure, and favorably influences on the fiber stress-strain behavior and the expansive mechanical characteristics of the PLLA fiber stents.
Differences in cellular competence offer an explanation for the differences in the healing capacity of tissues of various ages and conditions. The homeobox family of genes plays key roles in governing cellular competence. Of these, we hypothesize that Msx2 is a strong candidate regulator of competence in skin wound healing because it is expressed in the skin during fetal development in the stage of scarless healing, affects postnatal digit regeneration, and is reexpressed transiently during postnatal skin wound repair. To address whether Msx2 affects cellular competence in injury repair, 3 mm full-thickness excisional wounds were created on the back of C.Cg-Msx2(tm1Rilm)/Mmcd (Msx2 null) mice and the healing pattern was compared with that of the wild type mice. The results show that Msx2 null mice exhibited faster wound closure with accelerated reepithelialization plus earlier appearance of keratin markers for differentiation and an increased level of smooth muscle actin and tenascin in the granulation tissue. In vitro, keratinocytes of Msx2 null mice exhibit increased cell migration and the fibroblasts show stronger collagen gel contraction. Thus, our results suggest that Msx2 regulates the cellular competence of keratinocytes and fibroblasts in skin injury repair.
A key issue in stem cell biology is the differentiation of homogeneous stem cells towards different fates which are also organized into desired configurations. Little is known about the mechanisms underlying the process of periodic patterning. Feather explants offer a fundamental and testable model in which multi-potential cells are organized into hexagonally arranged primordia and the spacing between primordia. Previous work explored roles of a Turing reaction-diffusion mechanism in establishing chemical patterns. Here we show that a continuum of feather patterns, ranging from stripes to spots, can be obtained when the level of p-ERK activity is adjusted with chemical inhibitors. The patterns are dose-dependent, tissue stage-dependent, and irreversible. Analyses show that ERK activity-dependent mesenchymal cell chemotaxis is essential for converting micro-signaling centers into stable feather primordia. A mathematical model based on short-range activation, long-range inhibition, and cell chemotaxis is developed and shown to simulate observed experimental results. This generic cell behavior model can be applied to model stem cell patterning behavior at large.
This paper presents a novel perspective of Robotic Stem Cells (RSCs), defined as the basic non-biological elements with stem cell like properties that can self-reorganize to repair damage to their swarming organization. Self here means that the elements can autonomously decide and execute their actions without requiring any preset triggers, commands, or help from external sources. We develop this concept for two purposes. One is to develop a new theory for self-organization and self-assembly of multi-robots systems that can detect and recover from unforeseen errors or attacks. This self-healing and self-regeneration is used to minimize the compromise of overall function for the robot team. The other is to decipher the basic algorithms of regenerative behaviors in multi-cellular animal models, so that we can understand the fundamental principles used in the regeneration of biological systems. RSCs are envisioned to be basic building elements for future systems that are capable of self-organization, self-assembly, self-healing and self-regeneration. We first discuss the essential features of biological stem cells for such a purpose, and then propose the functional requirements of robotic stem cells with properties equivalent to gene controller, program selector and executor. We show that RSCs are a novel robotic model for scalable self-organization and self-healing in computer simulations and physical implementation. As our understanding of stem cells advances, we expect that future robots will be more versatile, resilient and complex, and such new robotic systems may also demand and inspire new knowledge from stem cell biology and related fields, such as artificial intelligence and tissue engineering.
The purpose of this perspective is to highlight the merit of the reptile integument as an experimental model. Reptiles represent the first amniotes. From stem reptiles, extant reptiles, birds and mammals have evolved. Mammal hairs and feathers evolved from Therapsid and Sauropsid reptiles, respectively. The early reptilian integument had to adapt to the challenges of terrestrial life, developing a multi-layered stratum corneum capable of barrier function and ultraviolet protection. For better mechanical protection, diverse reptilian scale types have evolved. The evolution of endothermy has driven the convergent evolution of hair and feather follicles: both form multiple localized growth units with stem cells and transient amplifying cells protected in the proximal follicle. This topological arrangement allows them to elongate, molt and regenerate without structural constraints. Another unique feature of reptile skin is the exquisite arrangement of scales and pigment patterns, making them testable models for mechanisms of pattern formation. Since they face the constant threat of damage on land, different strategies were developed to accommodate skin homeostasis and regeneration. Temporally, they can be under continuous renewal or sloughing cycles. Spatially, they can be diffuse or form discrete localized growth units (follicles). To understand how gene regulatory networks evolved to produce increasingly complex ectodermal organs, we have to study how prototypic scale-forming pathways in reptiles are modulated to produce appendage novelties. Despite the fact that there are numerous studies of reptile scales, molecular analyses have lagged behind. Here, we underscore how further development of this novel experimental model will be valuable in filling the gaps of our understanding of the Evo-Devo of amniote integuments.
Patterns are orders embedded in randomness. They may appear as spatial arrangements or temporal series, and the elements may appear identical or with variations. Patterns exist in the physical world as well as in living systems. In the biological world, patterns can range from simple to complex, forming the basic building blocks of life. The process which generates this ordering in the biological world was termed pattern formation. Since Wolpert promoted this concept four decades ago, scientists from molecular biology, developmental biology, stem cell biology, tissue engineering, theoretical modeling and other disciplines have made remarkable progress towards understanding its mechanisms. It is time to review and re-integrate our understanding. Here, we explore the origin of pattern formation, how the genetic code is translated into biological form, and how complex phenotypes are selected over evolutionary time. We present four topics: Principles, Evolution, Development, and Stem Cells and Regeneration. We have interviewed several leaders in the field to gain insight into how their research and the field of pattern formation have shaped each other. We have learned that both molecular process and physico-chemical principles are important for biological pattern formation. New understanding will emerge through integration of the analytical approach of molecular-genetic manipulation and the systemic approach of model simulation. We regret that we could not include every major investigator in the field, but hope that this Special Issue of the Int. J. Dev. Biol. represents a sample of our knowledge of pattern formation today, which will help to stimulate more research on this fundamental process.
Patterns are orders embedded in randomness; they may appear in spatial arrangements or in temporal sequences, and each element may appear identical or with variations. Patterns exist in the physical world as well as in living systems. In the biological world, patterns can range from simple to complex, forming the basic building blocks of life. When we see patterns in peacock feathers, leopard spots or zebra stripes, we are fascinated by the order, the variations and the beauty. The process that generates this ordering in the biological world has been termed Pattern Formation. Since Lewis Wolpert promoted this concept four decades ago, scientists from molecular biology, developmental biology, stem cell biology, tissue engineering, theoretical modeling and other disciplines have made remarkable progress towards understanding its underlying mechanisms. We have learned that both molecular processes and physico-chemical principles are important for biological Pattern Formation and as Guest Editors, felt that it is time to review and re-integrate our understanding of this fundamental and fantastic process.
The control of hair growth in the adult mammalian coat is a fascinating topic which has just begun to be explored with molecular genetic tools. Complex hair cycle domains and regenerative hair waves are present in normal adult (> 2 month) mice, but more apparent in mutants with cyclic alopecia phenotypes. Each hair cycle domain consists of initiation site(s), a propagating wave and boundaries. By analyzing the dynamics of hair growth, time required for regeneration after plucking, in situ hybridization and reporter activity, we showed that there is oscillation of intra-follicular Wnt signaling which is synchronous with hair cycling, and there is oscillation of dermal bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling which is asynchronous with hair cycling. The interactions of these two rhythms lead to the recognition of refractory and competent phases in the telogen, and autonomous and propagating phases in the anagen. Boundaries form when propagating anagen waves reach follicles which are in refractory telogen. Experiments showed that Krt14-Nog mice have shortened refractory telogen and simplified wave dynamics. Krt14-Nog skin grafts exhibit non-autonomous interactions with surrounding host skin. Implantation of BMP coated beads into competent telogen skin prevents hair wave propagation around the bead. Thus, we have developed a new molecular understanding of the classic early concepts of inhibitory "chalone", suggesting that stem cells within the hair follicle micro-environment, or other organs, are subject to a higher level of macro-environmental regulation. Such a novel understanding has important implications in the field of regenerative medicine. The unexpected links with Bmp2 expression in subcutaneous adipocytes has implications for systems biology and Evo-Devo.
A fully functional model of hair reconstitution remains elusive because of the complexity of cellular organization and the number of molecular interactions that must be approximated. In this issue, Havlickova et al. (2009) report a significant contribution to hair engineering with their human folliculoid microsphere assay.
In this issue of Cell Stem Cell, Greco et al. (2009) characterize the hair germ as a novel stop between bulge stem cell and transient amplifying cells during hair regeneration. The work implies stem cell states can be regulated to form different numbers of intermediate stops, depending on physiological requirements.
At least two lineages of Mesozoic birds are known to have possessed a distinct feather morphotype for which there is no neornithine (modern) equivalent. The early stepwise evolution of apparently modern feathers occurred within Maniraptora, basal to the avian transition, with asymmetrical pennaceous feathers suited for flight present in the most basal recognized avian, Archaeopteryx lithographica. The number of extinct primitive feather morphotypes recognized among non-avian dinosaurs continues to increase with new discoveries; some of these resemble feathers present in basal birds. As a result, feathers between phylogenetically widely separated taxa have been described as homologous. Here we examine the extinct feather morphotypes recognized within Aves and compare these structures with those found in non-avian dinosaurs. We conclude that the "rachis dominated" tail feathers of Confuciusornis sanctus and some enantiornithines are not equivalent to the "proximally ribbon-like" pennaceous feathers of the juvenile oviraptorosaur Similicaudipteryx yixianensis. Close morphological analysis of these unusual rectrices in basal birds supports the interpretation that they are modified pennaceous feathers. Because this feather morphotype is not seen in living birds, we build on current understanding of modern feather molecular morphogenesis to suggest a hypothetical molecular developmental model for the formation of the rachis dominated feathers of extinct basal birds.
The ephrin receptor (Eph) tyrosine kinases and their ephrin ligands are involved in morphogenesis during organ formation. We studied their role in feather morphogenesis, focusing on ephrin-B1 and its receptor EphB3. Early in feather development, ephrin-B1 mRNA and protein were found to be expressed in the dermal condensation, but not in the inter-bud mesenchyme. Later, in feather buds, expression was found in both the epithelium and mesenchyme. In the feather follicle, ephrin-B1 protein expression was found to be enriched in the feather filament epithelium and in the marginal plate which sets the boundary between the barb ridges. EphB3 mRNA was also expressed in epithelia. In the feather bud, its expression was restricted to the posterior bud. In the follicle, its expression formed a circle at the bud base which may set the boundary between bud and inter-bud domains. Perturbation with ephrin-B1/Fc altered feather primordia segregation and feather bud elongation. Analyses revealed that ephrin-B1/Fc caused three types of changes: blurred placode boundaries with loose dermal condensations, incomplete follicle invagination with less compact dermal papillae, and aberrant barb ridge patterning in feather filament morphogenesis. Thus, while ephrin-B1 suppression does not inhibit the initial emergence of a new epithelial domain, Eph/ephrin-B1 interaction is required for its proper completion. Consequently, we propose that interaction between ephrin-B1 and its receptor is involved in boundary stabilization during feather morphogenesis.
The hair follicle system represents a tractable model for the study of stem cell behaviour in regenerative adult epithelial tissue. However, although there are numerous spatial scales of observation (molecular, cellular, follicle and multi follicle), it is not yet clear what mechanisms underpin the follicle growth cycle. In this study we seek to address this problem by describing how the growth dynamics of a large population of follicles can be treated as a classical excitable medium. Defining caricature interactions at the molecular scale and treating a single follicle as a functional unit, a minimal model is proposed in which the follicle growth cycle is an emergent phenomenon. Expressions are derived, in terms of parameters representing molecular regulation, for the time spent in the different functional phases of the cycle, a formalism that allows the model to be directly compared with a previous cellular automaton model and experimental measurements made at the single follicle scale. A multi follicle model is constructed and numerical simulations are used to demonstrate excellent qualitative agreement with a range of experimental observations. Notably, the excitable medium equations exhibit a wider family of solutions than the previous work and we demonstrate how parameter changes representing altered molecular regulation can explain perturbed patterns in Wnt over-expression and BMP down-regulation mouse models. Further experimental scenarios that could be used to test the fundamental premise of the model are suggested. The key conclusion from our work is that positive and negative regulatory interactions between activators and inhibitors can give rise to a range of experimentally observed phenomena at the follicle and multi follicle spatial scales and, as such, could represent a core mechanism underlying hair follicle growth.
In a feather, there are distinct morphologies along the proximal-distal axis. The proximal part is a cylindrical stalk (calamus), whereas the distal part has barb and barbule branches. Here we focus on what molecular signaling activity can modulate feather stem cells to generate these distinct morphologies. We demonstrate the drastic tissue remodeling during feather cycling which includes initiation, growth and resting phases. In the growth phase, epithelial components undergo progressive changes from the collar growth zone to the ramogenic zone, to maturing barb branches along the proximal-distal axis. Mesenchymal components also undergo progressive changes from the dermal papilla, to the collar mesenchyme, to the pulp along the proximal-distal axis. Over-expression of Spry4, a negative regulator of receptor tyrosine kinases, promotes barb branch formation at the expense of the epidermal collar. It even induces barb branches from the follicle sheath (equivalent to the outer root sheath in hair follicles). The results are feathers with expanded feather vane regions and small or missing proximal feather shafts (the calamus). Spry4 also expands the pulp region while reducing the size of dermal papillae, leading to a failure to regenerate. In contrast, over-expressing Fgf10 increases the size of the dermal papillae, expands collar epithelia and mesenchyme, but also prevents feather branch formation and feather keratin differentiation. These results suggest that coordinated Sprouty/FGF pathway activity at different stages is important to modulate feather epidermal stem cells to form distinct feather morphologies along the proximal-distal feather axis.
Feathers have complex forms and are an excellent model to study the development and evolution of morphologies. Existing chicken feather mutants are especially useful for identifying genetic determinants of feather formation. This study focused on the gene F, underlying the frizzle feather trait that has a characteristic curled feather rachis and barbs in domestic chickens. Our developmental biology studies identified defects in feather medulla formation, and physical studies revealed that the frizzle feather curls in a stepwise manner. The frizzle gene is transmitted in an autosomal incomplete dominant mode. A whole-genome linkage scan of five pedigrees with 2678 SNPs revealed association of the frizzle locus with a keratin gene-enriched region within the linkage group E22C19W28_E50C23. Sequence analyses of the keratin gene cluster identified a 69 bp in-frame deletion in a conserved region of KRT75, an ?-keratin gene. Retroviral-mediated expression of the mutated F cDNA in the wild-type rectrix qualitatively changed the bending of the rachis with some features of frizzle feathers including irregular kinks, severe bending near their distal ends, and substantially higher variations among samples in comparison to normal feathers. These results confirmed KRT75 as the F gene. This study demonstrates the potential of our approach for identifying genetic determinants of feather forms.
To examine the roles of epigenetic modulation on hair follicle regeneration, we generated mice with a K14-Cre-mediated loss of DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1). The mutant shows an uneven epidermal thickness and alterations in hair follicle size. When formed, hair follicle architecture and differentiation appear normal. Hair subtypes exist but hair fibers are shorter and thinner. Hair numbers appear normal at birth but gradually decrease to <50% of control in 1-year-old mice. Sections of old mutant skin show follicles in prolonged telogen with hyperplastic sebaceous glands. Anagen follicles in mutants exhibit decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis in matrix transient-amplifying cells. Although K15-positive stem cells in the mutant bulge are comparable in number to the control, their ability to proliferate and become activated to form a hair germ is reduced. As mice age, residual DNMT activity declines further, and the probability of successful anagen reentry decreases, leading to progressive alopecia. Paradoxically, there is increased proliferation in the epidermis, which also shows aberrant differentiation. These results highlight the importance of DNA methylation in maintaining stem cell homeostasis during the development and regeneration of ectodermal organs.
Cryopreservation of engineered tissue (ET) has achieved limited success due to limited understanding of freezing-induced biophysical phenomena in ETs, especially fluid-matrix interaction within ETs. To further our understanding of the freezing-induced fluid-matrix interaction, we have developed a biphasic model formulation that simulates the transient heat transfer and volumetric expansion during freezing, its resulting fluid movement in the ET, elastic deformation of the solid matrix, and the corresponding pressure redistribution within. Treated as a biphasic material, the ET consists of a porous solid matrix fully saturated with interstitial fluid. Temperature-dependent material properties were employed, and phase change was included by incorporating the latent heat of phase change into an effective specific heat term. Model-predicted temperature distribution, the location of the moving freezing front, and the ET deformation rates through the time course compare reasonably well with experiments reported previously. Results from our theoretical model show that behind the marching freezing front, the ET undergoes expansion due to phase change of its fluid contents. It compresses the region preceding the freezing front leading to its fluid expulsion and reduced regional fluid volume fractions. The expelled fluid is forced forward and upward into the region further ahead of the compression zone causing a secondary expansion zone, which then compresses the region further downstream with much reduced intensity. Overall, it forms an alternating expansion-compression pattern, which moves with the marching freezing front. The present biphasic model helps us to gain insights into some facets of the freezing process and cryopreservation treatment that could not be gleaned experimentally. Its resulting understanding will ultimately be useful to design and improve cryopreservation protocols for ETs.
The concept of regenerative medicine is relatively new, but animals are well known to remake their hair and feathers regularly by normal regenerative physiological processes. Here, we focus on 1) how extrafollicular environments can regulate hair and feather stem cell activities and 2) how different configurations of stem cells can shape organ forms in different body regions to fulfill changing physiological needs.
Stem cells are fascinating because of their potential in regenerative medicine. Stem cell homeostasis has been thought to be mainly regulated by signals from their adjacent micro-environment named the "stem cell niche". However, recent studies reveal that there can be multiple layers of environmental controls. Here we review these environmental controls using the paradigm of hair stem cells, because to observe and analyze the growth of hair is easier due to their characteristic cyclic regeneration pattern. The length of hair fibers is regulated by the duration of the growth period. In the hair follicles, hair stem cells located in the follicle bulge interact with signals from the dermal papilla. Outside of the follicle, activation of hair stem cells has been shown to be modulated by molecules released from the intra-dermal adipose tissue as well as body hormone status, immune function, neural activities, and aging. The general physiological status of an individual is further influenced by circadian rhythms and changing seasons. The interactive networks of these environmental factors provide new understanding on how stem cell homeostasis is regulated, inspiring new insights for regenerative medicine. Therapies do not necessarily have to be achieved by using stem cells themselves which may constitute a higher risk but by modulating stem cell activity through targeting one or multiple layers of their micro- and macro-environments.
In mammals, the skin can form complex global and local patterns to meet diverse functional requirements in different parts of the body. To date, the fundamental principles that underlie skin patterning remain poorly understood because of the involvement of multiple interacting processes. Genes involved in the planar cell polarity (PCP) signalling pathway, which is capable of polarizing cells within the planar plane of an epithelium, can control the orientation and differentiation of hair follicles, underlining their involvement in skin pattern formation. Here, we summarize recent progress that has been made to understand the PCP signalling pathway and its function in mammalian skin, including its role in hair follicle morphogenesis, ciliogenesis and wound healing. We argue that dissecting PCP signalling in the context of hair follicle formation might reveal many as-yet-undiscovered functions for PCP in the development, homeostasis and regeneration of skin.
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