Cell divisions and cell-fate decisions require stringent regulation for proper tissue development and homeostasis. The mammalian epidermis is a highly organized tissue structure that is sustained by epidermal stem cells (ESCs) that balance self-renewal and cell-fate decisions to establish a protective barrier, while replacing dying cells during homeostasis and in response to injury. Extensive work over past decades has provided insights into the regulatory mechanisms that control ESC specification, self-renewal and maintenance during different stages of the lifetime of an organism. In this Review, we discuss recent findings that have furthered our understanding of key regulatory features that allow ESCs to establish a functional barrier during development and to maintain tissue homeostasis in adults.
- Stem cells