• Stem cell;
  • Multipotent;
  • Neural crest;
  • Gene profile;
  • Hair follicle;
  • Bulge;
  • Msx2


Here, we report the first transcriptome for mouse epidermal neural crest stem cells (EPI-NCSC, formerly eNCSCs). In addition, our study resolves conflicting opinions in the literature by showing that EPI-NCSC are distinct from other types of skin-resident stem cells/progenitors. Finally, with the three gene profiles, we have established a foundation and provide a valuable resource for future mouse NCSC research. EPI-NCSC represent a novel type of multipotent adult stem cell that originates from the embryonic neural crest and resides in the bulge of hair follicles. We performed gene profiling by LongSAGE (long serial analysis of gene expression) with mRNA from EPI-NCSC, embryonic NCSC, and in vitro differentiated embryonic neural crest progeny. We have identified important differentially expressed genes, including novel genes and disease genes. Furthermore, using stringent criteria, we have defined an NCSC molecular signature that consists of a panel of 19 genes and is representative of both EPI-NCSC and NCSC. EPI-NCSC have characteristics that combine advantages of embryonic and adult stem cells. Similar to embryonic stem cells, EPI-NCSC have a high degree of innate plasticity, they can be isolated at high levels of purity, and they can be expanded in vitro. Similar to other types of adult stem cell, EPI-NCSC are readily accessible by minimal invasive procedure. Multipotent adult mammalian stem cells are of great interest because of their potential value in future cell replacement therapy by autologous transplantation, which avoids graft rejection.