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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Oct 27;112(43):13249-54. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1518874112. Epub 2015 Oct 12.

Lgr6 marks nail stem cells and is required for digit tip regeneration.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115


The tips of the digits of some mammals, including human infants and mice, are capable of complete regeneration after injury. This process is reliant on the presence of the overlaying nail organ and is mediated by a proliferative blastema. Epithelial Wnt/β-catenin signaling has been shown to be necessary for mouse digit tip regeneration. Here, we report on Lgr5 and Lgr6 (leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 5 and 6), two important agonists of the Wnt pathway that are known to be markers of several epithelial stem cell populations. We find that Lgr5 is expressed in a dermal population of cells adjacent to the specialized epithelia surrounding the keratinized nail plate. Moreover, Lgr5-expressing cells contribute to this dermis, but not the blastema, during digit tip regeneration. In contrast, we find that Lgr6 is expressed within cells of the nail matrix portion of the nail epithelium, as well as in a subset of cells in the bone and eccrine sweat glands. Genetic lineage analysis reveals that Lgr6-expressing cells give rise to the nail during homeostatic growth, demonstrating that Lgr6 is a marker of nail stem cells. Moreover, Lgr6-expressing cells contribute to the blastema, suggesting a potential direct role for Lgr6-expressing cells during digit tip regeneration. This role is confirmed by analysis of Lgr6-deficient mice, which have both a nail and bone regeneration defect.


Lgr5; Wnt signaling; epimorphic regeneration; nail fold; nail matrix

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