Cell Rep. 2022 Jan 11;38(2):110234. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.110234
Melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells, are replenished from multiple stem cell niches in adult tissue. Although pigmentation traits are known risk factors for melanoma, we know little about melanocyte stem cell (McSC) populations other than hair follicle McSCs and lack key lineage markers with which to identify McSCs and study their function. Here we find that Tfap2b and a select set of target genes specify an McSC population at the dorsal root ganglia in zebrafish. Functionally, Tfap2b is required for only a few late-stage embryonic melanocytes, and is essential for McSC-dependent melanocyte regeneration. Fate mapping data reveal that tfap2b+ McSCs have multifate potential, and are the cells of origin for large patches of adult melanocytes, two other pigment cell types (iridophores and xanthophores), and nerve-associated cells. Hence, Tfap2b confers McSC identity in early development, distinguishing McSCs from other neural crest and pigment cell lineages, and retains multifate potential in the adult zebrafish.
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