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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Transcriptional profiling of putative human epithelial stem cells

Salih S Koçer12, Petar M Djurić3, Mónica F Bugallo3, Sanford R Simon12 and Maja Matic12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY, USA

2 Department of Pathology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY, USA

3 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY, USA

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:359  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-359

Published: 30 July 2008

Abstract

Background

Human interfollicular epidermis is sustained by the proliferation of stem cells and their progeny, transient amplifying cells. Molecular characterization of these two cell populations is essential for better understanding of self renewal, differentiation and mechanisms of skin pathogenesis. The purpose of this study was to obtain gene expression profiles of alpha 6+/MHCI+, transient amplifying cells and alpha 6+/MHCI-, putative stem cells, and to compare them with existing data bases of gene expression profiles of hair follicle stem cells. The expression of Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class I, previously shown to be absent in stem cells in several tissues, and alpha 6 integrin were used to isolate MHCI positive basal cells, and MHCI low/negative basal cells.

Results

Transcriptional profiles of the two cell populations were determined and comparisons made with published data for hair follicle stem cell gene expression profiles. We demonstrate that presumptive interfollicular stem cells, alpha 6+/MHCI- cells, are enriched in messenger RNAs encoding surface receptors, cell adhesion molecules, extracellular matrix proteins, transcripts encoding members of IFN-alpha family proteins and components of IFN signaling, but contain lower levels of transcripts encoding proteins which take part in energy metabolism, cell cycle, ribosome biosynthesis, splicing, protein translation, degradation, DNA replication, repair, and chromosome remodeling. Furthermore, our data indicate that the cell signaling pathways Notch1 and NF-κB are downregulated/inhibited in MHC negative basal cells.

Conclusion

This study demonstrates that alpha 6+/MHCI- cells have additional characteristics attributed to stem cells. Moreover, the transcription profile of alpha 6+/MHCI- cells shows similarities to transcription profiles of mouse hair follicle bulge cells known to be enriched for stem cells. Collectively, our data suggests that alpha 6+/MHCI- cells may be enriched for stem cells. This study is the first comprehensive gene expression profile of putative human epithelial stem cells and their progeny that were isolated directly from neonatal foreskin tissue. Our study is important for understanding self renewal and differentiation of epidermal stem cells, and for elucidating signaling pathways involved in those processes. The generated data base may serve those working with other human epithelial tissue progenitors.