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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2004 Dec;16(6):693-9.

The stem cell niche: theme and variations.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Embryology, 115 W. University Pkwy., Baltimore, Maryland 21210, USA.


Stem cells in animal tissues are often located and controlled by special tissue microenvironments known as niches. Studies of stem cell niches in model systems such as Drosophila have revealed adhesive interactions, cell cycle modifications and intercellular signals that operate to control stem cell behavior. Candidate niches and regulatory molecules have also been identified in many mammalian tissues, including bone marrow, skin, gut and brain. While niches are an ancient evolutionary device with conserved features across diverse organisms, we suggest that certain niches display important differences in their organization and function.

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