Molecular histology in skin appendage morphogenesis

Randall B. Widelitz, Ting Xin Jiang, Alexander Noveen, Sheree A. Ting-Berreth, Eric Yin, Han Sung Jung, Cheng Ming Chuong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Classical histological studies have demonstrated the cellular organization of skin appendages and helped us appreciate the intricate structures and function of skin appendages. At this juncture, questions can be directed to determine how these cellular organizations are achieved. How do cells rearrange themselves to form the complex cyto-architecture of skin appendages? What are the molecular bases of the morphogenesis and histogenesis of skin appendages? Recently, many new molecules expressed in a spatial and temporal specific manner during the formation of skin appendages were identified by molecular biological approaches. In this review, novel molecular techniques that are useful in skin appendage research are discussed. The distribution of exemplary molecules from different categories including growth factors, intracellular signaling molecules, homeobox genes, adhesion molecules, and extracellular matrix molecules are summarized in a diagram using feather and hair as models. We hope that these results will serve as the ground work for completing the molecular mapping of skin appendages which will refine and re-define our understanding of the developmental process beyond relying on morphological criteria. We also hope that the listed protocols will help those who are interested in this venture. This new molecular histology of skin appendages is the foundation for forming new hypotheses on how molecules are mechanistically involved in skin appendage development and for designing experiments to test them. This may also lead to the modulation of healing and regeneration processes in future treatment modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-465
Number of pages14
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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