STEM CELLS: Spatiotemporal coordination of stem cell commitment during epidermal homeostasis

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Adult tissues replace lost cells via pools of stem cells. However, the mechanisms of cell self-renewal, commitment, and functional integration into the tissue remain unsolved. Using imaging techniques in live mice, we captured the lifetime of individual cells in the ear and paw epidermis. Our data suggest that epidermal stem cells have equal potential to either divide or directly differentiate. Tracking stem cells over multiple generations reveals that cell behavior is not coordinated between generations. However, sibling cell fate and lifetimes are coupled. We did not observe regulated asymmetric cell divisions. Lastly, we demonstrated that differentiating stem cells integrate into preexisting ordered spatial units of the epidermis. This study elucidates how a tissue is maintained by both temporal and spatial coordination of stem cell behaviors.

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