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Epidermal Stem Cell Biology The lab studies the stem cells of adult mammalian epidermis, the outer covering of the skin. The epidermis is a highly tractable system in which to study the properties of adult stem cells in normal tissue homeostasis and in disease.

Fiona Watt Fiona Watt obtained her DPhil from Oxford University and was a postdoc at M.I.T. She initially established a laboratory at the Kennedy Institute in London and then moved to the Cancer Research UK (CR-UK) London Research Institute (formerly known as the Imperial Cancer Research Fund). She is now the Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Cambridge. She is Deputy Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research and Deputy Director of the CR-UK Cambridge Research Institute. She is a member of EMBO, a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a fellow of the Royal Society. She will be moving to Kings College London in 2012.

The epidermis is maintained throughout adult life by stem cells, which self-renew and produce progeny that undergo terminal differentiation along the lineages of the hair follicles (HF), sebaceous glands (SG) and interfollicular epidermis (IFE). Several different stem cell populations have now been identified in the IFE, sebaceous gland and hair follicle. Stem cells in each location are functionally interconvertible, but normally give rise to a more restricted repertoire of differentiated cells because of local microenvironmental cues. We are investigating the following questions: 1. What is the relationship between different epidermal stem cell populations? 2. What are the microenvironmental cues that regulate whether a stem cell will self-renew or initiate terminal differentiation? 3. What are the signalling pathways that regulate differentiation along the different epidermal lineages?

Micro-epidermis: controlling epidermal stem cells differentiation and segregation using ECM microarrays

Funding Wellcome Trust MRC EC

Key Publications Jensen, K.B., Collins, C.A., Nascimento, E., Tan, D.W., Frye, M., Itami, S. and Watt, F.M. (2009) Lrig1 expression defines a distinct multipotent stem cell population in mammalian epidermis. Cell Stem Cell 4: 427439 PMID: 19427292 Fujiwara H, Ferreira M, Donati G, Marciano DK, Linton JM, Sato Y, Hartner A, Sekiguchi K, Reichardt LF, Watt FM. The basement membrane of hair follicle stem cells is a muscle cell niche. Cell. 2011. 144: 577-589. PMID: 21335239

Group Members Mariya Chhatriwala Denny Cottle Ryan Driskell Celine Gomez Emma Heath Victoria Highland Kai Kretzschmar Marta Lesko Kif Liakthali Beate Lichtenberger Elizabeth MacRae Maria Mastrogiannaki Fabian Oceguera-Yanez Wesley Chua Grace Kaushal Pawel Schweiger Betina Wingreen Jensen - PA

Connelly, J.T., Gautrot, J.E., Trappmann, B., Tan, D.W.-M., Donati, G., Huck, W.T.S. and Watt, F.M. (2010) Actin and serum response factor transduce physical cues from the microenvironment to regulate epidermal stem cell fate decisions. Nat. Cell Biol. 12:711-718 PMID: 20581838

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Cambridge Stem Cell Institute Brochure 2012  
Cambridge Stem Cell Institute Brochure 2012