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Nature15 May 2003

 nature highlights

Stem cells: A gene for 'stemness'

Two groups report the identification of a key gene involved in the production of blood stem cells, and in doing so add support to the idea that there is a rare population of 'cancer stem cells' in the mixed bag of cells that constitute a tumour. The regulatory gene Bmi-1 is known to be expressed in mouse and human haematopoietic stem cells in liver and bone marrow. Now Bmi-1 is shown to regulate proliferation of both normal and leukaemic stem cells. Adult mice lacking the gene do not produce haematopoietic stem cells, and transplanted fetal liver and marrow cells from these mice contribute only transiently to blood formation. Molecular targeting of Bmi-1 in leukaemic stem cells may have potent and specific therapeutic effects.

article
Bmi-1 determines the proliferative capacity of normal and leukaemic stem cells
JULIE LESSARD & GUY SAUVAGEAU
Nature 423, 255–260 (2003); doi:10.1038/nature01572
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letters to nature
Bmi-1 is required for maintenance of adult self-renewing haematopoietic stem cells
IN-KYUNG PARK, DALONG QIAN, MARK KIEL, MICHAEL W. BECKER, MICHAEL PIHALJA, IRVING L. WEISSMAN, SEAN J. MORRISON & MICHAEL F. CLARKE
Nature 423, 302–305 (2003); doi:10.1038/nature01587
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news and views
Stem cells: Self-renewal writ in blood
JOHN E. DICK
The ability to self-renew is a defining property of stem cells, and a protein in blood stem cells that controls their self-renewal has been discovered. That same protein is also crucial for the development of leukaemia.
Nature 423, 231–233 (2003); doi:10.1038/423231a
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15 May 2003 table of contents

  
  © 2003 Nature Publishing Group