An epidermal stem cell “on/off switch” and its implications for skin cancer and burns

Children’s Hospital Boston Stem Cell Program’s Dr. Fernando Camargo and colleagues published a paper in the March 2011 issue of Cell identifying a molecule called Yap1 – already known in fruit flies – to control skin stem cell growth in mice and humans. Since Yap1 can regulate gene activity in a way that instructs skin stem cells to grow more skin or to stop growing, the findings underscore the link between regeneration and cancer. (Unchecked growth can lead to tumor formation.) This knowledge could be applied to the treatment of burn victims as well as patients with some types of skin cancer.

This research was partially funded by Dr. Camargo’s Stand Up To Cancer grant. Read about his participation in the 2010 Stand Up To Cancer event here.

Read more:

  • Abstract of the paper, “Yap1 Acts Downstream of α-Catenin to Control Epidermal Proliferation,” in Cell
  • Children’s Hospital Boston’s press release, “New clue to controlling skin regeneration — as well as skin cancer”
  • Blog post on Vector, Children’s Hospital Boston’s science and clinical innovation blog, “Give me some skin (or not)”



  • Learn more about Fernando Camargo’s research

    To learn more about Fernando Camargo’s stem cell related research, check out this press release.