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J Pathol. 2009 Jan;217(2):181-5. doi: 10.1002/path.2470.

Asymmetric stem cell division and pathology: insights from Drosophila stem cell systems.

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  • Life Sciences Institute, Center for Stem Cell Biology, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. yukikomy@umich.edu


Adult stem cells maintain many tissues and organs throughout the life of an organism by serving as renewable sources of differentiated cells. While stem cells remain in a relatively undifferentiated state, their daughters can commit to differentiation to acquire distinct cell fates. Therefore, a stem cell's choice between self-renewal and commitment to differentiation is of critical importance to the maintenance of functional tissues and organs. Many adult stem cells can divide asymmetrically to produce one self-renewed stem cell and one differentiated daughter, preserving the critical balance between stem cell and differentiated cell populations. Stem cell dysfunction and/or malfunction have been proposed to lead to several human pathologies, including tumourigenesis and tissue degeneration, yet whether a failure of asymmetric division is a primary cause of stem cell-related pathologies remains largely uninvestigated. Here, I discuss the implications of asymmetric stem cell division in pathology.

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