1 Jensen Group, BRIC Research Groups, BRIC, Københavns Universitet2 Wellcome Trust - Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QR, UK.3 unknown4 Jensen Group, BRIC Research Groups, BRIC, Københavns Universitet
The complex anatomy of the epidermis contains multiple adult stem cell populations, but the extent to which they functionally overlap during homeostasis, wound healing, and tumor initiation remains poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that Lrig1(+ve) cells are highly proliferative epidermal stem cells. Long-term clonal analysis reveals that Lrig1(+ve) cells maintain the upper pilosebaceous unit, containing the infundibulum and sebaceous gland as independent compartments, but contribute to neither the hair follicle nor the interfollicular epidermis, which are maintained by distinct stem cell populations. In contrast, upon wounding, stem cell progeny from multiple compartments acquire lineage plasticity and make permanent contributions to regenerating tissue. We further show that oncogene activation in Lrig1(+ve) cells drives hyperplasia but requires auxiliary stimuli for tumor formation. In summary, our data demonstrate that epidermal stem cells are lineage restricted during homeostasis and suggest that compartmentalization may constitute a conserved mechanism underlying epithelial tissue maintenance.