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J Cell Biol. 2008 Jan 28;180(2):257-60. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200712159.

Cell biology of stem cells: an enigma of asymmetry and self-renewal.

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Yale Stem Cell Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.


Stem cells present a vast, new terrain of cell biology. A central question in stem cell research is how stem cells achieve asymmetric divisions to replicate themselves while producing differentiated daughter cells. This hallmark of stem cells is manifested either strictly during each mitosis or loosely among several divisions. Current research has revealed the crucial roles of niche signaling, intrinsic cell polarity, subcellular localization mechanism, asymmetric centrosomes and spindles, as well as cell cycle regulators in establishing self-renewing asymmetry during stem cell division. Much of this progress has benefited from studies in model stem cell systems such as Drosophila melanogaster neuroblasts and germline stem cells and mammalian skin stem cells. Further investigations of these questions in diverse types of stem cells will significantly advance our knowledge of cell biology and allow us to effectively harness stem cells for therapeutic applications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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