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The stem cell niche is a complex local signaling microenvironment that sustains stem cell activity during organ maintenance and regeneration. The mammary gland niche must support its associated stem cells while also responding to systemic hormonal regulation that triggers pubertal changes. We find that Gli2, the major Hedgehog pathway transcriptional effector, acts within mouse mammary stromal cells to direct a hormone-responsive niche signaling program by activating expression of factors that regulate epithelial stem cells as well as receptors for the mammatrophic hormones estrogen and growth hormone. Whereas prior studies implicate stem cell defects in human disease, this work shows that niche dysfunction may also cause disease, with possible relevance for human disorders and in particular the breast growth pathogenesis associated with combined pituitary hormone deficiency.
Dendritic cells (DCs) and monocytes play a central role in pathogen sensing, phagocytosis, and antigen presentation and consist of multiple specialized subtypes. However, their identities and interrelationships are not fully understood. Using unbiased single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) of ~2400 cells, we identified six human DCs and four monocyte subtypes in human blood. Our study reveals a new DC subset that shares properties with plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) but potently activates T cells, thus redefining pDCs; a new subdivision within the CD1C+ subset of DCs; the relationship between blastic plasmacytoid DC neoplasia cells and healthy DCs; and circulating progenitor of conventional DCs (cDCs). Our revised taxonomy will enable more accurate functional and developmental analyses as well as immune monitoring in health and disease.