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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2010 Jan;2(1):a001313. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a001313.

Polarity in stem cell division: asymmetric stem cell division in tissue homeostasis.

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  • 1Life Sciences Institute, Center for Stem Cell Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Many adult stem cells divide asymmetrically to balance self-renewal and differentiation, thereby maintaining tissue homeostasis. Asymmetric stem cell divisions depend on asymmetric cell architecture (i.e., cell polarity) within the cell and/or the cellular environment. In particular, as residents of the tissues they sustain, stem cells are inevitably placed in the context of the tissue architecture. Indeed, many stem cells are polarized within their microenvironment, or the stem cell niche, and their asymmetric division relies on their relationship with the microenvironment. Here, we review asymmetric stem cell divisions in the context of the stem cell niche with a focus on Drosophila germ line stem cells, where the nature of niche-dependent asymmetric stem cell division is well characterized.

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