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Self—Renewal, Stem Cell

  • By: Helen Blau, Alessandra Sacco & Penney Gilbert
  • In: Encyclopedia of Stem Cell Research
  • Edited by: Clive N. Svendsen & Allison D. Ebert
  • Subject:Ethics in Health Care (general), Medical Research

A STEM CELL is defined as a cell that can renew itself for the lifetime of the organism (self—renewal) while also producing cell progeny that mature into more specialized, organ—specific cells (committed progenitors). The balance between populations of stem cells and differentiating cells is critical for embryonic development and for long—term maintenance and regeneration of adult tissues. Understanding stem cell self—renewal holds great promise for therapeutic applications in regenerative medicine.

Mechanisms of Self—Renewal

In steady—state conditions, the main molecular mechanism through which stem cells can achieve self—renewal is asymmetric division, which entails the division of a stem cell to give rise to two cells with different fates: one stem cell and one committed progenitor. This mechanism ensures that the stem cell pool (number of stem cells) remains ...

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