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Cell. 1989 Apr 21;57(2):201-9.

Existence of slow-cycling limbal epithelial basal cells that can be preferentially stimulated to proliferate: implications on epithelial stem cells.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104.


Despite the obvious importance of epithelial stem cells in tissue homeostasis and tumorigenesis, little is known about their specific location or biological characteristics. Using 3H-thymidine labeling, we have identified a subpopulation of corneal epithelial basal cells, located in the peripheral cornea in a region called limbus, that are normally slow cycling, but can be stimulated to proliferate in response to wounding and to a tumor promotor, TPA. No such cells can be detected in the central corneal epithelium, suggesting that corneal epithelial stem cells are located in the limbus. A comparison of various types of epithelial stem cells revealed a common set of features, including their preferred location, pigment protection, and growth properties, which presumably play a crucial role in epithelial stem cell function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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