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What keeps cells in tissues behaving normally in the face of myriad mutations?

Review article
Rubin H. Bioessays. 2006.

Abstract

The use of a reporter gene in transgenic mice indicates that there are many local mutations and large genomic rearrangements per somatic cell that accumulate with age at different rates per organ and without visible effects. Dissociation of the cells for monolayer culture brings out great heterogeneity of size and loss of function among cells that presumably reflect genetic and epigenetic differences among the cells, but are masked in organized tissue. The regulatory power of a mass of contiguous normal cells is expressed in its capacity to normalize the appearance and growth behavior of solitary homophilic neoplastic cells, and to redirect differentiation of solitary heterophilic stem-like cells. Intimate contact between the interacting cells is required to induce these changes. The normalization of the neoplastic phenotype does not require gap junctional communication between cells, though transdifferentiation might. These varied relationships are manifestations of the unifying biological principle of "order in the large over heterogeneity in the small".

PMID

16615084 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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