Abstract: Tissue regeneration and maintenance rely on coordinated stem cell behaviors. This orchestration can be impaired by oncogenic mutations leading to tissue architecture disruption and ultimately cancer formation. However, it is still largely unclear how oncogenes perturb stem cell functions to break tissue architecture. Here, we used intravital imaging and a novel signaling reporter to investigate the mechanisms by which oncogenic Kras mutation causes tissue disruption in the hair follicle. Through longitudinally tracking the same hair follicles in live mice, we found that KrasG12D, a mutation that can lead to squamous cell carcinoma, induces epithelial tissue deformation in a spatiotemporally specific manner. This tissue architecture abnormality is linked with a spatial dysregulation of stem cell proliferation as well as abnormal migration during hair follicle growth. By using a reporter mouse that allows us to capture real-time ERK signal dynamics at the single cell level, we discovered that KrasG12D, but not a closely related mutation HrasG12V, converts the pulsatile ERK signal fluctuation in the stem cells into sustained activation. Furthermore, by combining drug treatment with longitudinal imaging, we demonstrated that temporary inhibiting ERK signal reverts the KrasG12D-induced tissue deformation, suggesting that sustained ERK activation leads to tissue architecture disruption in Kras mutant hair follicles. Altogether, our work suggests that oncogenic mutations induce tissue abnormalities when spatiotemporally specific conditions are met, which allows mutant stem cells to disturb local cell coordination through altering dynamic signal communications.

Journal Link: 10.1101/2022.09.14.507992 Journal Link: Publisher Website Journal Link: Download PDF Journal Link: Google Scholar