Research Article

Dermal sheath contraction powers stem cell niche relocation during hair cycle regression

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Science  10 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6474, pp. 161-166
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9131

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Niche relocated by muscle contraction

Regulation of adult stem cells by their microenvironment, or niche, is essential for tissue homeostasis and for regeneration after injury and during aging. Normal regression of hair follicles during the hair cycle poses a particular challenge for maintaining a functional proximity of stem cells to their niche, especially the specialized mesenchymal cells of the dermal papilla. Using mice as a model organism, Heitman et al. demonstrate that the follicle dermal sheath is an active smooth muscle that drives tissue remodeling through coordinated cell contraction, enabling renewed contact between the dermal papilla and hair follicle stem cells during hair follicle regression. This biomechanical mechanism of niche relocation may be utilized in other stem cell niche systems.

Science, this issue p. 161

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