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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 75-82

The germinative epithelium of sheep vibrissae and wool follicles has extensive proliferative potential but is dependent on the dermal papilla


1 Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
2 Growth and Development Section, AgResearch Ltd, Ruakura Research Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand
3 Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; Growth and Development Section, AgResearch Ltd, Ruakura Research Centre, Hamilton, New Zealand

Correspondence Address:
Nicholas W Rufaut
Department of Dermatology, St. Vincent's Hospital,P.O. Box 2900, Fitzroy,VIC 3065, Australia

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0974-7753.96908

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Aim: To investigate the growth potential of keratinocytes derived from the germinative epithelium (GE) of ovine hair follicles. Stem cells from the outer root sheath (ORS) of hair follicles migrate to the GE in the lower follicle where they proliferate and differentiate to form the hair fiber. It has been suggested that the GE comprises transit-amplifying cells and that the duration of anagen is determined by their limited proliferative potential. However, we show here that keratinocytes derived from the GE of ovine follicles grow extensively in vitro, arguing against this hypothesis. Materials and Methods: Primary cultures of keratinocytes were initiated from microdissected GE tissue from ovine vibrissae and wool follicles. Clonal lines of keratinocytes were derived by limiting dilution. Their growth potential was determined by exhaustive serial passaging. Expression of differentiation markers was evaluated by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Results: Initiation of these cultures required that interaction between the GE and dermal papilla was maintained. However, the keratinocytes could subsequently be cloned and were grown as pure cell populations for 26-52 cell doublings. This proliferative potential is several orders of magnitude greater than required to maintain a single anagen phase. The keratinocytes were indistinguishable from ORS keratinocytes from the same follicles, expressing K14 while undifferentiated, and upregulating the epidermal and inner root sheath markers, loricrin and KRT27 on differentiation. Thus, these cells initially depend on papilla-derived signals to grow, but can revert to an ORS-like phenotype in vitro. Their extensive proliferative capacity shows that the GE is not an exclusively transit-amplifying cell population.


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