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The stem-cell niche as an entity of action

Abstract

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Stem-cell populations are established in ‘niches’ — specific anatomic locations that regulate how they participate in tissue generation, maintenance and repair. The niche saves stem cells from depletion, while protecting the host from over-exuberant stem-cell proliferation. It constitutes a basic unit of tissue physiology, integrating signals that mediate the balanced response of stem cells to the needs of organisms. Yet the niche may also induce pathologies by imposing aberrant function on stem cells or other targets. The interplay between stem cells and their niche creates the dynamic system necessary for sustaining tissues, and for the ultimate design of stem-cell therapeutics.

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Figure 1: Refining elements necessary for an adult stem-cell niche.
Figure 2: Elements identified in stem-cell niches from various organisms and tissues.
Figure 3: Inputs feeding back on stem-cell function in the niche.
Figure 4: Potential niche contribution to dysplastic cell growth.

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Acknowledgements

The author gratefully acknowledges H. Fleming and C. Lo Celso for their helpful input, C. Shambaugh for administrative assistance, and grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Burroughs Wellcome Trust, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for supporting this work.

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Scadden, D. The stem-cell niche as an entity of action. Nature 441, 1075–1079 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04957

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