Hair follicle stem cells provide a functional niche for melanocyte stem cells

Shintaro Tanimura, Yuko Tadokoro, Ken Inomata, Nguyen Thanh Binh, Wataru Nishie, Satoshi Yamazaki, Hiromitsu Nakauchi, Yoshio Tanaka, James R. McMillan, Daisuke Sawamura, Kim Yancey, Hiroshi Shimizu, Emi K. Nishimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


In most stem cell systems, the organization of the stem cell niche and the anchoring matrix required for stem cell maintenance are largely unknown. We report here that collagen XVII (COL17A1/BP180/BPAG2), a hemidesmosomal transmembrane collagen, is highly expressed in hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) and is required for the maintenance not only of HFSCs but also of melanocyte stem cells (MSCs), which do not express Col17a1 but directly adhere to HFSCs. Mice lacking Col17a1 show premature hair graying and hair loss. Analysis of Col17a1-null mice revealed that COL17A1 is critical for the self-renewal of HFSCs through maintaining their quiescence and immaturity, potentially explaining the mechanism underlying hair loss in human COL17A1 deficiency. Moreover, forced expression of COL17A1 in basal keratinocytes, including HFSCs, in Col17a1-null mice rescues MSCs from premature differentiation and restores TGF-β signaling, demonstrating that HFSCs function as a critical regulatory component of the MSC niche.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
JournalCell Stem Cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 4 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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