A recent collaboration between Assistant Professor Scott Atwood and Professor Qing Nie has resulted in the discovery of new subpopulations of stem cells vital to skin growth and maintenance. The Developmental and Cell Biology faculty members published their results in Nature Communications.
Previous skin development models postulated only one or two stem cell subpopulations within the first layer of the skin epidermis. The BioSci team used single cell-RNA sequencing and immunofluorescent staining of differentially expressed gene products to study epidermal stem cell heterogeneity. They found four spatially distinct stem cell populations. When communication between the cells was altered using in vitro human organoid cultures, the team observed severe thinning of the human skin equivalents. Their findings help illustrate the epidermis’ heterogeneity and may offer new insights into skin health and disease.