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Stem Cell Res Ther. 2013 Jul 30;4(4):90. doi: 10.1186/scrt276.

The less-often-traveled surface of stem cells: caveolin-1 and caveolae in stem cells, tissue repair and regeneration.


Stem cells are an important resource for tissue repair and regeneration. While a great deal of attention has focused on derivation and molecular regulation of stem cells, relatively little research has focused on how the subcellular structure and composition of the cell membrane influences stem cell activities such as proliferation, differentiation and homing. Caveolae are specialized membrane lipid rafts coated with caveolin scaffolding proteins, which can regulate cholesterol transport and the activity of cell signaling receptors and their downstream effectors. Caveolin-1 is involved in the regulation of many cellular processes, including growth, control of mitochondrial antioxidant levels, migration and senescence. These activities are of relevance to stem cell biology, and in this review evidence for caveolin-1 involvement in stem cell biology is summarized. Altered stem and progenitor cell populations in caveolin-1 null mice suggest that caveolin-1 can regulate stem cell proliferation, and in vitro studies with isolated stem cells suggest that caveolin-1 regulates stem cell differentiation. The available evidence leads us to hypothesize that caveolin-1 expression may stabilize the differentiated and undifferentiated stem cell phenotype, and transient downregulation of caveolin-1 expression may be required for transition between the two. Such regulation would probably be critical in regenerative applications of adult stem cells and during tissue regeneration. We also review here the temporal changes in caveolin-1 expression reported during tissue repair. Delayed muscle regeneration in transgenic mice overexpressing caveolin-1 as well as compromised cardiac, brain and liver tissue repair and delayed wound healing in caveolin-1 null mice suggest that caveolin-1 plays an important role in tissue repair, but that this role may be negative or positive depending on the tissue type and the nature of the repair process. Finally, we also discuss how caveolin-1 quiescence-inducing activities and effects on mitochondrial antioxidant levels may influence stem cell aging.

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