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J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Nov;132(11):2522-33. doi: 10.1038/jid.2012.196. Epub 2012 Jul 5.

CD133 is a marker for long-term repopulating murine epidermal stem cells.

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Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


Maintenance, repair, and renewal of the epidermis are thought to depend on a pool of dedicated epidermal stem cells (EpiSCs). Like for many somatic tissues, isolation of a nearly pure population of stem cells is a primary goal in cutaneous biology. We used a quantitative transplantation assay, using injection of keratinocytes into subcutis combined with limiting dilution analysis, to assess the long-term repopulating ability of putative murine EpiSC populations. Putative EpiSC populations were isolated by FACS sorting. The CD133(+) population and the subpopulation of CD133(+) cells that exhibits high mitochondrial membrane potential (DΨm(hi)) were enriched for long-term repopulating EpiSCs versus unfractionated cells (3.9- and 5.2-fold, respectively). Evidence for self-renewal capacity was obtained by serial transplantation of long-term epidermal repopulating units derived from CD133(+) and CD133(+)ΔΨm(hi) keratinocytes. CD133(+) keratinocytes were multipotent and produced significantly more hair follicles than CD133(-) cells. CD133(+) cells were a subset of the previously described integrin α6(+)CD34(+) bulge cell population, and 28.9±8.6% were label-retaining cells. Thus, murine keratinocytes within the CD133(+) and CD133(+)ΔΨm(hi) populations contain EpiSCs that regenerate the epidermis for the long term, are self-renewing, multipotent, and label-retaining cells.

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