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Stem Cells. 2002;20(6):561-72.

Asymmetric cell kinetics genes: the key to expansion of adult stem cells in culture.

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The Biological Engineering Division, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


A singular challenge in stem cell research today is the expansion and propagation of functional adult stem cells. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which are immortal in culture, adult stem cells are notorious for the difficulty encountered when attempts are made to expand them in culture. One overlooked reason for this difficulty may be the inherent asymmetric cell kinetics of stem cells in postnatal somatic tissues. Senescence is the expected fate of a culture whose growth depends on adult stem cells that divide with asymmetric cell kinetics. Therefore, the bioengineering of strategies to expand adult stem cells in culture requires knowledge of cellular mechanisms that control asymmetric cell kinetics. The properties of several genes recently implicated to function in a cellular pathway(s) that regulates asymmetric cell kinetics are discussed. Understanding the function of these genes in asymmetric cell kinetics mechanisms may be the key that unlocks the adult stem cell expansion problem.

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