, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 225-231

The contribution of epidermal stem cells to skin cancer

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Tumors arising from the skin are of multiple phenotypes, with differing degrees of malignant potential. In mouse models of skin carcinogenesis, tumors of squamous phenotype are the most common; however, human disease indicates that multiple phenotypes may arise from a common pool of stem cells that are then influenced by epigenetic factors. The use of transgenic and knockout gene technologies with mice is unraveling some of the specific genes regulating fate determination in stem cells other than squamous lineage, including basal cell carcinoma and sebaceous adenomas. The following review examines the evidence for the stem cell origin of epidermal tumors and the contribution of some specific gene families toward stem cell fate decisions during epidermal tumor progression.