Article abstract

Nature Genetics 40, 1291 - 1299 (2008)
Published online: 12 October 2008 | doi:10.1038/ng.239

Lgr5 marks cycling, yet long-lived, hair follicle stem cells

Viljar Jaks1,2,4, Nick Barker3,4, Maria Kasper1,4, Johan H van Es3, Hugo J Snippert3, Hans Clevers3 & Rune Toftgård1

In mouse hair follicles, a group of quiescent cells in the bulge is believed to have stem cell activity. Lgr5, a marker of intestinal stem cells, is expressed in actively cycling cells in the bulge and secondary germ of telogen hair follicles and in the lower outer root sheath of anagen hair follicles. Here we show that Lgr5+ cells comprise an actively proliferating and multipotent stem cell population able to give rise to new hair follicles and maintain all cell lineages of the hair follicle over long periods of time. Lgr5+ progeny repopulate other stem cell compartments in the hair follicle, supporting the existence of a stem or progenitor cell hierarchy. By marking Lgr5+ cells during trafficking through the lower outer root sheath, we show that these cells retain stem cell properties and contribute to hair follicle growth during the next anagen. Expression analysis suggests involvement of autocrine Hedgehog signaling in maintaining the Lgr5+ stem cell population.

  1. Karolinska Institutet, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Novum, SE-141 57 Huddinge, Sweden.
  2. University of Tartu, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology and Estonian Biocentre, Riia 23, 51010 Tartu, Estonia.
  3. Hubrecht Institute, Uppsalalaan 8, 3584CT Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  4. These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to: Hans Clevers3 e-mail:

Correspondence to: Rune Toftgård1 e-mail:


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