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Cell Stem Cell. 2009 Sep 4;5(3):267-78. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2009.06.004. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

Distinct self-renewal and differentiation phases in the niche of infrequently dividing hair follicle stem cells.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


In homeostasis of adult vertebrate tissues, stem cells are thought to self-renew by infrequent and asymmetric divisions that generate another stem cell daughter and a progenitor daughter cell committed to differentiate. This model is based largely on in vivo invertebrate or in vitro mammal studies. Here, we examine the dynamic behavior of adult hair follicle stem cells in their normal setting by employing mice with repressible H2B-GFP expression to track cell divisions and Cre-inducible mice to perform long-term single-cell lineage tracing. We provide direct evidence for the infrequent stem cell division model in intact tissue. Moreover, we find that differentiation of progenitor cells occurs at different times and tissue locations than self-renewal of stem cells. Distinct fates of differentiation or self-renewal are assigned to individual cells in a temporal-spatial manner. We propose that large clusters of tissue stem cells behave as populations whose maintenance involves unidirectional daughter-cell-fate decisions.

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