S Estrach, CA Ambler, C Lo Celso, K Hozumi, FM Watt
The Wnt and Notch signalling pathways regulate hair follicle maintenance, but how they intersect is unknown. We show that Notch signalling is active in the hair follicle pre-cortex, a region of high Wnt activity, where commitment to hair lineages occurs. Deletion of jagged 1 (Jag1) results in inhibition of the hair growth cycle and conversion of hair follicles into cysts of cells undergoing interfollicular epidermal differentiation. Conversely, activation of Notch in adult epidermis triggers expansion of the base of the hair follicle, sebaceous gland enlargement and abnormal clumping of the follicles. In adult epidermis, the induction of new hair follicle formation by beta-catenin is prevented by blocking Notch signalling pharmacologically or through Jag1 deletion. Conversely, activation of both pathways accelerates growth and differentiation of ectopic follicles. beta-catenin stimulates Notch signalling by inducing Jag1 transcription. We conclude that the Notch pathway acts downstream of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway to determine epidermal cell fate.