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Nat Cell Biol. 2004 May;6(5):436-42.

In vivo self-renewing divisions of haematopoietic stem cells are increased in the absence of the early G1-phase inhibitor, p18INK4C.

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University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh PA 15213, USA.


Self-renewal of stem cells is critical for tissue repair and maintenance of organ integrity in most mammalian systems. The relative asymmetry between self-renewal and differentiation in balance with apoptosis determines the size and durability of a stem-cell pool. Regulation of the cell cycle is one of the fundamental mechanisms underlying determination of cell fate. Absence of p21(Cip1/Waf1), a late G1-phase cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor (CKI), has previously been shown to enable cell-cycle entry of haematopoietic stem cells, but leads to premature exhaustion of the stem cells under conditions of stress. We show here that deletion of an early G1-phase CKI, p18(INK4C), results in strikingly improved long-term engraftment, largely by increasing self-renewing divisions of the primitive cells in murine transplant models. Therefore, different CKIs have highly distinct effects on the kinetics of stem cells, possibly because of their active position in the cell cycle, and p18(INK4C) appears to be a strong inhibitor limiting the potential of stem-cell self-renewal in vivo.

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