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Trends Cell Biol. 2007 Jan;17(1):19-25. Epub 2006 Nov 28.

The vascular niche and its basement membrane.

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Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstr. 108, D-01307 Dresden, Germany.


Over the past few years, scientists have realized that many cellular and developmental processes, including pancreatic beta-cell growth and differentiation, stem cell and progenitor cell proliferation and cancer cell metastasis, occur in what are known as 'vascular niches'. Despite increasing numbers of reports on these niches, few common mechanisms have been identified to explain their various effects. Here, we define the term 'vascular niche' and suggest that a common and conserved feature of this niche is to provide a basement membrane to cells that are unable to form their own. We further propose that these cells require a vascular niche when they retain a high degree of plasticity.

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