Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Molecular Carcinogenesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Dr. John DiGiovanni

Committee Member

Dr. Susan Fischer

Committee Member

Dr. Mark Bedford

Committee Member

Dr. Dean Tang

Committee Member

Dr. Feng Wang-Johanning


STATs play crucial roles in a wide variety of biological functions, including development, proliferation, differentiation, migration and in cancer development. In the present study, we examined the impact of Stat3 deletion or activation on behavior of keratinocytes, including keratinocyte stem cells (KSCs). Deletion of Stat3 specifically in the bulge region of the hair follicle using K15.CrePR1 X Stat3fl/fl mice led to decreased tumor development by altering survival of bulge region KSCs. To further understand the role of KSCs in skin tumorigenesis, K5.Stat3C transgenic (Tg) mice which express a constitutively active/dimerized form of Stat3 called Stat3C via the bovine keratin 5 (K5) promoter were studied. The number of CD34 and α6 integrin positive cells was significantly reduced in Tg mice as compared to non-transgenic (NTg) littermates. There was a concomitant increase in the progenitor populations (Lgr-6, Lrig-1 and Sca-1) in the Tg mice vs. the stem cell population (CD34 and Keratin15). To investigate the mechanism underlying the increase in the progenitor population at the expense of bulge region KSCs we examined if Stat3C expression was involved in inducing migration of the bulge region KSCs. There was altered β-catenin and α6-integrin expression in the hair follicles of Tg mice, which may have contributed to reduced adhesive interactions between the epithelial cells and the basement membrane facilitating migration out of the niche. To further study the effect of Stat3 on differentiation of keratinocytes we analyzed the epidermal keratinocytes in K5.Cre X Stat3fl/fl mice. There was an increase in the expression of epidermal differentiation markers in the Stat3 knockout mice. These data suggest that deletion of Stat3 in the epidermis and hair follicle induced differentiation in these cells. Preliminary studies done with the BK5.Stat3C mouse model suggests that multiple hair follicle stem/progenitor populations may be involved in skin tumor development and progression in this model of skin tumorigenesis. Overall, these data suggest that Stat3 plays an important role in differentiation as well as migration of keratinocytes and that these effects may play a role during epithelial carcinogenesis.


Stat3, Keratinocyte Stem Cells, Skin Cancer, Sca-1, CD34, Hair Follicle Bulge, Two-stage Skin Carcinogenesis, Differentiation, Migration, Epidermis



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