Tenascin-C expressing touch dome keratinocytes exhibit characteristics of all epidermal lineages

Minh Binh Nguyen, Pooja Flora, Meagan C. Branch, Madison Weber, Xiang Yu Zheng, Unnikrishnan Sivan, Simon Joost, Karl Annusver, Deyou Zheng, Maria Kasper, Elena Ezhkova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The touch dome (TD) keratinocytes are specialized epidermal cells that intimately associate with the light touch sensing Merkel cells (MCs). The TD keratinocytes function as a niche for the MCs and can induce de novo hair follicles upon stimulation; however, how the TD keratinocytes are maintained during homeostasis remains unclear. scRNA-seq identified a specific TD keratinocyte marker, Tenascin-C (TNC). Lineage tracing of Tnc-expressing TD keratinocytes revealed that these cells maintain themselves as an autonomous epidermal compartment and give rise to MCs upon injury. Molecular characterization uncovered that, while the transcriptional and chromatin landscape of the TD keratinocytes is remarkably similar to that of the interfollicular epidermal keratinocytes, it also shares certain molecular signatures with the hair follicle keratinocytes. Our study highlights that the TD keratinocytes in the adult skin have molecular characteristics of keratinocytes of diverse epidermal lineages.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience advances
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2024


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