Stanford Advisors


All Publications


  • Defining Epidermal Basal Cell States during Skin Homeostasis and Wound Healing Using Single-Cell Transcriptomics CELL REPORTS Haensel, D., Jin, S., Sun, P., Cinco, R., Dragan, M., Quy Nguyen, Cang, Z., Gong, Y., Vu, R., MacLean, A. L., Kessenbrock, K., Gratton, E., Nie, Q., Dai, X. 2020; 30 (11): 3932-+

    Abstract

    Our knowledge of transcriptional heterogeneities in epithelial stem and progenitor cell compartments is limited. Epidermal basal cells sustain cutaneous tissue maintenance and drive wound healing. Previous studies have probed basal cell heterogeneity in stem and progenitor potential, but a comprehensive dissection of basal cell dynamics during differentiation is lacking. Using single-cell RNA sequencing coupled with RNAScope and fluorescence lifetime imaging, we identify three non-proliferative and one proliferative basal cell state in homeostatic skin that differ in metabolic preference and become spatially partitioned during wound re-epithelialization. Pseudotemporal trajectory and RNA velocity analyses predict a quasi-linear differentiation hierarchy where basal cells progress from Col17a1Hi/Trp63Hi state to early-response state, proliferate at the juncture of these two states, or become growth arrested before differentiating into spinous cells. Wound healing induces plasticity manifested by dynamic basal-spinous interconversions at multiple basal transcriptional states. Our study provides a systematic view of epidermal cellular dynamics, supporting a revised "hierarchical-lineage" model of homeostasis.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.02.091

    View details for Web of Science ID 000520843300030

    View details for PubMedID 32187560

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7218802

  • AP-1 and TGFSS cooperativity drives non-canonical Hedgehog signaling in resistant basal cell carcinoma. Nature communications Yao, C. D., Haensel, D., Gaddam, S., Patel, T., Atwood, S. X., Sarin, K. Y., Whitson, R. J., McKellar, S., Shankar, G., Aasi, S., Rieger, K., Oro, A. E. 2020; 11 (1): 5079

    Abstract

    Tumor heterogeneity and lack of knowledge about resistant cell states remain a barrier to targeted cancer therapies. Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) depend on Hedgehog (Hh)/Gli signaling, but can develop mechanisms of Smoothened (SMO) inhibitor resistance. We previously identified a nuclear myocardin-related transcription factor (nMRTF) resistance pathway that amplifies noncanonical Gli1 activity, but characteristics and drivers of the nMRTF cell state remain unknown. Here, we use single cell RNA-sequencing of patient tumors to identify three prognostic surface markers (LYPD3, TACSTD2, and LY6D) which correlate with nMRTF and resistance to SMO inhibitors. The nMRTF cell state resembles transit-amplifying cells of the hair follicle matrix, with AP-1 and TGFSS cooperativity driving nMRTF activation. JNK/AP-1 signaling commissions chromatin accessibility and Smad3 DNA binding leading to a transcriptional program of RhoGEFs that facilitate nMRTF activity. Importantly, small molecule AP-1 inhibitors selectively target LYPD3+/TACSTD2+/LY6D+ nMRTF human BCCs ex vivo, opening an avenue for improving combinatorial therapies.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-020-18762-5

    View details for PubMedID 33033234

  • Starve a cold, and perhaps a cancer. Nature cell biology Haensel, D., Oro, A. E. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41556-020-0543-7

    View details for PubMedID 32587343

  • Intermediate cell states in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition PHYSICAL BIOLOGY Sha, Y., Haensel, D., Gutierrez, G., Du, H., Dai, X., Nie, Q. 2019; 16 (2): 021001

    Abstract

    The transition of epithelial cells into a mesenchymal state (epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition or EMT) is a highly dynamic process implicated in various biological processes. During EMT, cells do not necessarily exist in 'pure' epithelial or mesenchymal states. There are cells with mixed (or hybrid) features of the two, which are termed as the intermediate cell states (ICSs). While the exact functions of ICS remain elusive, together with EMT it appears to play important roles in embryogenesis, tissue development, and pathological processes such as cancer metastasis. Recent single cell experiments and advanced mathematical modeling have improved our capability in identifying ICS and provided a better understanding of ICS in development and disease. Here, we review the recent findings related to the ICS in/or EMT and highlight the challenges in the identification and functional characterization of ICS.

    View details for DOI 10.1088/1478-3975/aaf928

    View details for Web of Science ID 000456276700001

    View details for PubMedID 30560804

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6602058

  • An Ovol2-Zeb1 transcriptional circuit regulates epithelial directional migration and proliferation EMBO REPORTS Haensel, D., Sun, P., MacLean, A. L., Ma, X., Zhou, Y., Stemmler, M. P., Brabletz, S., Berx, G., Plikus, M. V., Nie, Q., Brabletz, T., Dai, X. 2019; 20 (1)

    Abstract

    Directional migration is inherently important for epithelial tissue regeneration and repair, but how it is precisely controlled and coordinated with cell proliferation is unclear. Here, we report that Ovol2, a transcriptional repressor that inhibits epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), plays a crucial role in adult skin epithelial regeneration and repair. Ovol2-deficient mice show compromised wound healing characterized by aberrant epidermal cell migration and proliferation, as well as delayed anagen progression characterized by defects in hair follicle matrix cell proliferation and subsequent differentiation. Epidermal keratinocytes and bulge hair follicle stem cells (Bu-HFSCs) lacking Ovol2 fail to expand in culture and display molecular alterations consistent with enhanced EMT and reduced proliferation. Live imaging of wound explants and Bu-HFSCs reveals increased migration speed but reduced directionality, and post-mitotic cell cycle arrest. Remarkably, simultaneous deletion of Zeb1 encoding an EMT-promoting factor restores directional migration to Ovol2-deficient Bu-HFSCs. Taken together, our findings highlight the important function of an Ovol2-Zeb1 EMT-regulatory circuit in controlling the directional migration of epithelial stem and progenitor cells to facilitate adult skin epithelial regeneration and repair.

    View details for DOI 10.15252/embr.201846273

    View details for Web of Science ID 000459024800003

    View details for PubMedID 30413481

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6322385

  • Ex Vivo Imaging and Genetic Manipulation of Mouse Hair Follicle Bulge Stem Cells. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) Haensel, D., McNeil, M. A., Dai, X. 2019; 1879: 15–29

    Abstract

    Stem cells that reside in the bulge of adult mouse hair follicles are a leading model of tissue stem cell research. Ex vivo culturing, molecular and cell biological characterizations, as well as genetic manipulation of fluorescence-activated cell sorting-isolated bulge stem cells offer a useful experimental pipeline to complement in vivo studies. Here we describe detailed methods for culturing, immunostaining, live cell imaging, and adenoviral infection of bulge stem cells for downstream applications such as in vitro clonal and in vivo patch assays.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/7651_2018_136

    View details for PubMedID 29478134

  • Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in cutaneous wound healing: Where we are and where we are heading DEVELOPMENTAL DYNAMICS Haensel, D., Dai, X. 2018; 247 (3): 473–80

    Abstract

    Cutaneous wound healing occurs in distinct yet overlapping steps with the end goal of reforming a stratified epithelium to restore epidermal barrier function. A key component of this process is re-epithelialization, which involves the proliferation and migration of epidermal keratinocytes surrounding the wound. This spatiotemporally controlled process resembles aspects of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process and is thus proposed to involve a partial EMT. Here, we review current literature on the cellular and molecular changes that occur during, and the known or potential regulatory factors of cutaneous wound re-epithelialization and EMT to highlight their similarities and differences. We also discuss possible future directions toward a better understanding of the underlying regulatory mechanisms with implications for developing new therapeutics to improve wound repair in humans. Developmental Dynamics 247:473-480, 2018. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/dvdy.24561

    View details for Web of Science ID 000425141200013

    View details for PubMedID 28795450

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5809211

  • Multiscale modeling of layer formation in epidermis PLOS COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY Du, H., Wang, Y., Haensel, D., Lee, B., Dai, X., Nie, Q. 2018; 14 (2): e1006006

    Abstract

    The mammalian skin epidermis is a stratified epithelium composed of multiple layers of epithelial cells that exist in appropriate sizes and proportions, and with distinct boundaries separating each other. How the epidermis develops from a single layer of committed precursor cells to form a complex multilayered structure of multiple cell types remains elusive. Here, we construct stochastic, three-dimensional, and multiscale models consisting of a lineage of multiple cell types to study the control of epidermal development. Symmetric and asymmetric cell divisions, stochastic cell fate transitions within the lineage, extracellular morphogens, cell-to-cell adhesion forces, and cell signaling are included in model. A GPU algorithm was developed and implemented to accelerate the simulations. These simulations show that a balance between cell proliferation and differentiation during lineage progression is crucial for the development and maintenance of the epidermal tissue. We also find that selective intercellular adhesion is critical to sharpening the boundary between layers and to the formation of a highly ordered structure. The long-range action of a morphogen provides additional feedback regulations, enhancing the robustness of overall layer formation. Our model is built upon previous experimental findings revealing the role of Ovol transcription factors in regulating epidermal development. Direct comparisons of experimental and simulation perturbations show remarkable consistency. Taken together, our results highlight the major determinants of a well-stratified epidermis: balanced proliferation and differentiation, and a combination of both short- (symmetric/asymmetric division and selective cell adhesion) and long-range (morphogen) regulations. These underlying principles have broad implications for other developmental or regenerative processes leading to the formation of multilayered tissue structures, as well as for pathological processes such as epidermal wound healing.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006006

    View details for Web of Science ID 000427427300039

    View details for PubMedID 29481568

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5843350

  • Overexpression of Transcription Factor Ovol2 in Epidermal Progenitor Cells Results in Skin Blistering JOURNAL OF INVESTIGATIVE DERMATOLOGY Lee, B., Watanabe, K., Haensel, D., Sui, J. Y., Dai, X. 2017; 137 (8): 1805–8

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jid.2017.02.985

    View details for Web of Science ID 000405871600036

    View details for PubMedID 28457910