Lineage tracing of Foxd1-expressing embryonic progenitors to assess the role of divergent embryonic lineages on adult dermal fibroblast function
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Recent studies have highlighted the functional diversity of dermal fibroblast populations in health and disease, with part of this diversity linked to fibroblast lineage and embryonic origin. Fibroblasts derived from foxd1-expressing progenitors contribute to the myofibroblast populations present in lung and kidney fibrosis in mice but have not been investigated in the context of dermal wound repair. Using a Cre/Lox system to genetically track populations derived from foxd1-expressing progenitors, lineage-positive fibroblasts were identified as a subset of the dermal fibroblast population. During development, lineage-positive cells were most abundant within the dorsal embryonic tissues, contributing to the developing dermal fibroblast population, and remaining in this niche into adulthood. In adult mice, assessment of fibrosis-related gene expression in lineage-positive and lineage-negative populations isolated from wounded and unwounded dorsal skin was performed, identifying an enrichment of transcripts associated with matrix synthesis and remodeling in the lineage-positive populations. Using a novel excisional wound model, ventral skin healed with a greatly reduced frequency of foxd1 lineage-positive cells. This work supports that the embryonic origin of fibroblasts is an important predictor of fibroblast function, but also highlights that within disparate regions, fibroblasts of different lineages likely undergo convergent differentiation contributing to phenotypic similarities.