Stratified epithelia

Development | stem cells | disease

The mammalian skin epithelium is an ideal model system to study fundamental questions in stem cell and cancer biology

Specialized stratified epithelia cover the body surface, where they serve as barriers against the outside environment. These epithelia rapidly turnover throughout life and are maintained by progenitors that reside within the deepest basal layer. Our lab is broadly interested in how these epithelia are established, maintained, and disrupted in disease. We utilize both the mouse epidermis and oral epithelia as model systems to study stratified epithelial development, stem cells and cancer.



Closing the gap: mouse models to study adhesion in secondary palatogenesis. 

Lough KJ, Byrd KM, Spitzer DC, and Williams SE. J Dent Res (2017) 96(11):1210-1220. PMID: 28817360. [Special Issue on Orofacial Clefting, Craniofacial and Dental Anomalies] 

LGN plays distinct roles in oral epithelial stratification, filiform papilla morphogenesis and hair follicle development. 

Byrd KM, Lough KJ, Patel JH, Descovich CP, Curtis TA and Williams SE. Development (2016) 143(15): 2803-17. PMID: 27317810. [Selected for Cover, F1000 reviewed]

Aspm sustains postnatal cerebellar neurogenesis and medulloblastoma growth in mice.

Williams SE*, Garcia I, Crowther AJ, Stewart A, Li S, Stewart A, Liu H, Lough, KJ, O’Neill S, Veleta K, Oyarzabal EA, Merrill JR, Shi YI and Gershon TR*. Development (2015) 142(22): 3921-32. PMID: 26450969. *co-corresponding authors.

Par3-mInsc and Gai3 cooperate to promote oriented epidermal cell divisions through LGN. 

Williams SE, Ratliff LA, Postiglione MP, Knoblich JA and Fuchs E. Nat Cell Biol (2014) 16(8): 758-69. PMID: 25016959. [F1000 reviewed]

Oriented divisions, fate decisions.

Williams SE and Fuchs E. Curr Opin Cell Biol (2013) 25(6):749–758. PMID: 24021274

Asymmetric cell divisions promote Notch-dependent epidermal differentiation.

Williams SE, Beronja S, Pasolli HA and Fuchs E. Nature (2011) 470: 353-358. PMID: 21331036. [Comment in Nat Rev Genetics 12: 226; F1000 reviewed].

View list of publications from PubMed



Please reload


Contact us


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

605 Brinkhous-Bullitt Building,

Chapel Hill, NC 27599


Office: 919-962-8961
Lab: 919-966-2737

Join us

We are always looking for highly motivated scientists at all levels of training

(Undergrad, Grad, PostDoc)

Undergraduate and Post-Docs may send a C.V and a letter of intent here.

Graduate students may apply directly to UNC's BBSP graduate program.