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Rockefeller scientists identify 'natural' proteins that push stem cells to produce hair, not skin

y in hair follicle formation.

The finding that the beta-catenin/Lef-1 transcription complex turns down the expression of the gene that makes E-cadherin is completely novel, says Jamora, since this complex was only known to turn genes on.

Hair, cancer, and more

The description of how Wnt and noggin produce structural changes in a stem cell may ultimately shed light on several developmental and disease processes, Fuchs says. Mutations in E-cadherin and problems in the Wnt signaling pathway have already been linked to some cancers, says Fuchs. "The reason why tumor cells don't interact properly with other cells may be that their levels of adherens junction proteins are not maintained," she says. "For example, squamous cell skin cancers are large masses of cells that invaginate downward."

Too much, or too little, E-cadherin is "a bad thing," Fuchs says. With too much, hair can't develop. With too little, cancer may result.


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Contact: Joseph Bonner
bonnerj@mail.rockefeller.edu
212-327-8998
Rockefeller University
19-Mar-2003


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