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Science. 2014 Mar 21;343(6177):1353-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1248373.

β-Catenin activation regulates tissue growth non-cell autonomously in the hair stem cell niche.

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Department of Genetics, Yale Stem Cell Center, Yale Cancer Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Wnt/β-catenin signaling is critical for tissue regeneration. However, it is unclear how β-catenin controls stem cell behaviors to coordinate organized growth. Using live imaging, we show that activation of β-catenin specifically within mouse hair follicle stem cells generates new hair growth through oriented cell divisions and cellular displacement. β-Catenin activation is sufficient to induce hair growth independently of mesenchymal dermal papilla niche signals normally required for hair regeneration. Wild-type cells are co-opted into new hair growths by β-catenin mutant cells, which non-cell autonomously activate Wnt signaling within the neighboring wild-type cells via Wnt ligands. This study demonstrates a mechanism by which Wnt/β-catenin signaling controls stem cell-dependent tissue growth non-cell autonomously and advances our understanding of the mechanisms that drive coordinated regeneration.

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