Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS Comput Biol. 2015 Dec 23;11(12):e1004629. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004629. eCollection 2015 Dec.

The Role of Symmetric Stem Cell Divisions in Tissue Homeostasis.

Author information

Department of Mathematics, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, United States of America.
Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and Center for Complex Biological Systems, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, United States of America.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, United States of America.


Successful maintenance of cellular lineages critically depends on the fate decision dynamics of stem cells (SCs) upon division. There are three possible strategies with respect to SC fate decision symmetry: (a) asymmetric mode, when each and every SC division produces one SC and one non-SC progeny; (b) symmetric mode, when 50% of all divisions produce two SCs and another 50%-two non-SC progeny; (c) mixed mode, when both the asymmetric and two types of symmetric SC divisions co-exist and are partitioned so that long-term net balance of the lineage output stays constant. Theoretically, either of these strategies can achieve lineage homeostasis. However, it remains unclear which strategy(s) are more advantageous and under what specific circumstances, and what minimal control mechanisms are required to operate them. Here we used stochastic modeling to analyze and quantify the ability of different types of divisions to maintain long-term lineage homeostasis, in the context of different control networks. Using the example of a two-component lineage, consisting of SCs and one type of non-SC progeny, we show that its tight homeostatic control is not necessarily associated with purely asymmetric divisions. Through stochastic analysis and simulations we show that asymmetric divisions can either stabilize or destabilize the lineage system, depending on the underlying control network. We further apply our computational model to biological observations in the context of a two-component lineage of mouse epidermis, where autonomous lineage control has been proposed and notable regional differences, in terms of symmetric division ratio, have been noted-higher in thickened epidermis of the paw skin as compared to ear and tail skin. By using our model we propose a possible explanation for the regional differences in epidermal lineage control strategies. We demonstrate how symmetric divisions can work to stabilize paw epidermis lineage, which experiences high level of micro-injuries and a lack of hair follicles as a back-up source of SCs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center