Science 12 March 2010:
Mammalian epidermis consists of three self-renewing compartments: the hair follicle, the sebaceous gland, and the interfollicular epidermis. We generated knock-in alleles of murine Lgr6, a close relative of the Lgr5 stem cell gene. Lgr6 was expressed in the earliest embryonic hair placodes. In adult hair follicles, Lgr6+ cells resided in a previously uncharacterized region directly above the follicle bulge. They expressed none of the known bulge stem cell markers. Prenatal Lgr6+ cells established the hair follicle, sebaceous gland, and interfollicular epidermis. Postnatally, Lgr6+ cells generated sebaceous gland and interfollicular epidermis, whereas contribution to hair lineages gradually diminished with age. Adult Lgr6+ cells executed long-term wound repair, including the formation of new hair follicles. We conclude that Lgr6 marks the most primitive epidermal stem cell.