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Cell Stem Cell. 2009 May 8;4(5):387-97. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2009.04.011.

Stem cell states, fates, and the rules of attraction.

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  • 1The Molecular Haematology Unit, The Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford, UK.


Understanding cell-fate decisions in stem cell populations is a major goal of modern biology. Stem and progenitor cell populations are often heterogeneous, which may reflect stem cell subsets that express subtly different properties, including different propensities for lineage selection upon differentiation, yet remain able to interconvert. We discuss these properties with examples both from the hematopoietic and embryonic stem cell (ESC) systems. The nature of the stem cell substates and their relationship to commitment to differentiate and lineage selection can be elucidated in terms of a landscape picture in which stable states can be defined mathematically as attractors.

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