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A key process in organ homeostasis is the mobilization of stem cells out of their niches. We show through analysis of mouse models that telomere length, as well as the catalytic component of telomerase, Tert, are critical determinants in the mobilization of epidermal stem cells. Telomere shortening inhibited mobilization of stem cells out of their niche, impaired hair growth, and resulted in suppression of stem cell proliferative capacity in vitro. In contrast, Tert overexpression in the absence of changes in telomere length promoted stem cell mobilization, hair growth, and stem cell proliferation in vitro. The effects of telomeres and telomerase on stem cell biology anticipate their role in cancer and aging.