Maksim Plikus

picture of Maksim  Plikus

Associate Professor
School of Biological Sciences

Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2007, Pathology

Phone: (949) 824-1260

University of California, Irvine
Stem Cell Research Center
845 Health Sciences Road, Room 3018
Mail Code: 1705
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Stem cells and stem cell niche, Regeneration of tissues and organs, Biological pattern formation, Self-organization, Biological clock mechamisms, Skin and hair follicles, Adipose tissue, WNT and BMP signaling pathways
Academic Distinctions
Pew Biomedical scholar, 2016
Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation grantee, 2013
Dermatology Foundation grantee, 2013
2011 - 2012 University of Pennsylvania, Research Associate
2009 - 2011 University of Pennsylvania, Post-doctoral Researcher
2007 - 2009 University of Southern California, Post-doctoral Researcher
Research Abstract
The interest of my laboratory is to understand how complex tissues and organs regenerate under normal conditions and in response to injury or disease.

Large organs, such as skin, contain many thousands of stem cells. Coordinating activities of all these stem cells at the same time becomes a big challenge. Previously we showed that this challenge can be solved by implementing a self-organizing pattern-based mechanism (Plikus et al., Nature 2008; Plikus et al., Science 2011). We used the model of regenerating hairs to demonstrate that stem cells in each hair listen to activating and inhibitory signals emitted by the neighboring hairs. Upon integration of all signaling inputs, hair stem cells make a choice between activation or quiescence. This decision making process is identical for every hair and it can be described by a simple set of mathematical rules. Scaling of this elemental behavior across all hairs in the skin results in striking hair regeneration patterns visible to an eye. This pattern-based mechanism of stem cell activation is very efficient and highly adaptable to changes in the environment. Work in my laboratory aims at establishing cellular and molecular bases of self-organizing regenerative behavior in the skin. Considering that pattern formation is a universal process, we are looking for similar stem cell coordination strategies in other complex biological systems.

My laboratory is also interested to understand the natural limits of stem cell plasticity in response to injury. Our ongoing work using the model of wound healing shows that natural regenerative abilities of adult mammalian skin are far greater than previously thought. We show that adipose tissue can spontaneously regenerate in skin wounds, effectively transforming scars into nearly normal looking skin. We want to understand how lineage-restricted adult stem cells expand their developmental plasticity in response to wounding and how that enables them to replicate an embryonic event of adipose tissue regeneration. Current work in this direction aims to identify the mechanism of embryonic-like regeneration in adult mammalian tissues. We are also interested in developing new anti-scarring therapeutic strategies that will rely on reactivation of endogenous tissue stem cells and recapitulation of embryonic development.
Selected Publications. See a complete list at
Yang J, Plikus MV, Komarova NL (2015). The role of symmetric stem cell divisions in tissue homeostasis. PLoS Comput Biol Journal.pcbi.1004629
Al Alam D, Agha EE, Sakurai R, Kheirollahi V, Moiseenko A, Danopoulos S, Shrestha A, Schmoldt C, Quantius J, Herold S, Chao CM, Tiozzo C, Langhe SD, Plikus MV, Thornton M, Grubbs B, Minoo P, Rehan V, Bellusci S (2015). Evidence for the involvement of Fibroblast Growth Factor 10 in lipofibroblast formation during embryonic lung development. Development Dev.109173
Oh JW, Kloepper J, Langan EA, Kim Y, Yeo J, Kim MJ, Hsi TC, Rose C, Yoon GS, Lee SJ, Seykora J, Kim JC, Sung YK, Kim M#, Paus R#, Plikus MV# (2015). A guide to studying human hair follicle cycling in vivo. J of Investigative Dermatology JID.2015.354
Beasley SM, Plikus MV, Spitale RC, Pedersen IM (2015). The emerging functions of regulatory RNA species in skin biology. Experimental Dermatology EXD.12850
Chen CC, Plikus MV, Tang PC, Widelitz RB, Chuong CM (2015). The modulatable stem cell niche: Tissue interactions during hair and feather follicle regeneration. Journal of Molecular Biology J.JMB.2015.07.009
Oh JW, Chung O, Cho YS, MacGregor GR, Plikus MV# (2015). Gene loss in keratinization programs accompanies adaptation of Cetacean skin to aquatic lifestyle. Experimental Dermatology EXD.12756
Chen CC, Wang L, Plikus MV, Jiang TX, Murray PJ, Ramos R, Guerrero-Juarez CF, Hughes MW, Lee OK, Shi S, Widelitz RB, Lander AD, Chuong CM (2015). Organ-Level Quorum Sensing Directs Regeneration in Hair Stem Cell Populations. Cell 161: 277–290
Wang X, Hsi TS, Guerrero-Juarez CF, Pham K, Cho K, McCusker CD, Monuki ES, Cho KWY, Gay DL, PlikusMV# (2015). Principles and mechanisms of regeneration in the mouse model for wound-induced hair follicle neogenesis. Regeneration REG2.38
Plikus MV, Van Spyk EN, Pham K, Geyfman M, Kumar V, Takahashi JS, Andersen B (2015). The circadian clock in skin: implications for adult stem cells, tissue regeneration, cancer, aging, and immunity. Journal of Biological Rhythms
Oh JW, Lin SJ, Plikus MV# (2015). Regenerative metamorphosis in hairs and feathers: follicle as a programmable biological printer. Experimental Dermatology EXD.12627
Zhang LJ, Guerrero-Juarez CF, Hata T, Bapat SP, Ramos R, Plikus MV, Gallo RL (2015). Dermal adipocytes protect against invasive Staphylococcus aureus skin infection. Science 347: 67-71
Geyfman M, Plikus MV, Treffeisen E, Andersen B, Paus R (2014). Resting no more: re-defining telogen, the maintenance stage of the hair growth cycle. Biological Reviews BRV.12151
Plikus MV#, Guerrero-Juarez CF, Treffeisen E, Gay DL# (2014). Epigenetic control of skin and hair regeneration after wounding. Experimental Dermatology EXD.12488
Gay D, Yang CC, Plikus MV, Ito M, Rivera C, Treffeisen E, Doherty L, Spata M, Millar SE, Cotsarelis G (2014). CD133 Expression Correlates with Membrane Beta-Catenin and e-Cadherin Loss from Human Hair Follicle Placodes During Morphogenesis. J of Investigative Dermatology JID.2014.292
Guerrero-Juarez CF, Ramos R, Oh JW, Hsi TC, Plikus MV# (2014). Light-Emitting Hair Follicles: Studying Skin Regeneration With In Vivo Imaging. J of Investigative Dermatology 134: 1496-1498
Plikus MV#, Astrowski AA (2014). Deadly hairs, lethal feathers - convergent evolution of poisonous integument in mammals and birds. Experimental Dermatology EXD.12408
Chen CC, Murray PJ, Jiang TX, Plikus MV, Chang YT, Lee OK, Widelitz RB, Chuong CM (2014). Regenerative hair waves in aging mice and extra-follicular modulators Follistatin, Dkk1 and Sfrp4. Journal of Investigative Dermatology Jid.2014.139
Plikus MV# (2014). At the dawn of hair research – testing the limits of hair follicle regeneration. Experimental Dermatology EXD.12334
Plikus MV, Chuong CM (2014). Macroenvironmental Regulation of Hair Cycling and Collective Regenerative Behavior. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine 4: a015198
Oh JW, Hsi TC, Guerrero-Juarez CF, Ramos R, Plikus MV# (2013). Organotypic skin culture. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 133: e14
Ramos R, Guerrero-Juarez CF, Plikus MV# (2013). Hair follicle signaling networks: a dermal papilla centric approach. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 133: 2306-2308
Plikus MV, Vollmers C, De la Cruz D, Chaix A, Ramos R, Panda S, Chuong CM (2013). Local circadian clock gates cell cycle progression of transient amplifying cells during regenerative hair cycling. PNAS 10: E2106–E2115
Gay D, Kwon O, Zhang Z, Spata M, Plikus MV, Holler PD, Ito M, Yang Z, Treffeisen E, Kim CD, Nace A, Zhang X, Baratono S, Wang F, Ornitz DM, Millar SE, Cotsarelis G (2013). Fgf9 from dermal gamma delta T cells induces hair follicle neogenesis after wounding. Nature Medicine 19: 916-923
Plikus MV, Gay DL, Treffeisen E, Wang A, Supapannachart RJ, Cotsarelis G (2012) Epithelial stem cells and implications for wound repair. Semin Cell Dev Biol 23: 946-953
Plikus MV (2012). New activators and inhibitors in the hair cycle clock: targeting stem cells' state of competence. J of Investigative Dermatology 132: 1321-1324
Plikus MV, Baker RE, Chen CC, Fare C, de la Cruz D, Andl T, Maini PK, Millar SE, Widelitz R, Chuong CM (2011). Self-organizing and stochastic behaviors during the regeneration of hair stem cells. Science 332: 586-589
Plikus MV, Widelitz RB, Maxson R, Chuong CM (2009). Analyses of regenerative wave patterns in adult hair follicle populations reveal macro-environmental regulation of stem cell activity. International J of Developmental Biology 53: 857-868
Plikus MV, Mayer JA, de la Cruz D, Baker RE, Maini PK, Maxson R, Chuong CM (2008). Cyclic dermal BMP signalling regulates stem cell activation during hair regeneration. Nature 451: 340-344
Plikus MV and Chuong CM (2008). Complex hair cycle domain patterns and regenerative hair waves in living rodents. J of Investigative Dermatology 128: 1071-1080
Plikus MV, Zhang Z, Chuong CM (2006). PubFocus: semantic MEDLINE/PubMed citations analytics through integration of controlled biomedical dictionaries and ranking algorithm. BMC Bioinformatics 7: 424
Plikus MV, Zeichner-David M, Mayer JA, Reyna J, Bringas P, Thewissen JG, Snead ML, Chai Y, Chuong CM (2005). Morphoregulation of teeth: modulating the number, size, shape and differentiation by tuning Bmp activity. Evolution and Development 7: 440-457
Plikus MV and Chuong CM (2004). Making waves with hairs. J of Investigative Dermatology 122: vii-ix
Plikus MV, Wang WP, Liu J, Wang X, Jiang TX, Chuong CM (2004). Morpho-regulation of ectodermal organs: integument pathology and phenotypic variations in K14-Noggin engineered mice through modulation of bone morphogenic protein pathway. American J of Pathology 164: 1099-1114
Professional Societies
American Society For Cell Biology
Society for Investigative Dermatology
North American Hair Research Society
Other Experience
Associate editor
Experimental Dermatology, Journal 2015

Research Centers
Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center
Center for Complex Biological Systems
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