Our sense of touch is critical for numerous fundamental behaviors such as eating, communicating and survival. In our skin resides a population of specialized sensory cells called Merkel cells that perceive our sense of gentle touch and discriminate different textures and shapes. This video discusses recent findings by David Owens, Ph,D the Owens laboratory published in Cell Reports (Doucet et al., 3:1759-1765, 2013) outlining their discovery of a new stem cell population that is critical for our sense of touch as they maintain a steady pool of Merkel cells in the skin. These findings may hold significance for age-related loss in tactile acuity and pathological skin conditions such as Merkel cell carcinoma.
David Owens, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Pathology and Cell Biology and Yanne Doucet, Staff Associate in the Department of Dermatology, discuss the dynamics of a stem cell population in the skin epidermis responsible for Merkel cell homeostasis and required to maintain proper innervation of the touch dome.