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Volume 500 Issue 7460, 1 August 2013

Cell competition is a homeostasis mechanism, first observed in Drosophila, in which viable but suboptimal cells are eliminated from metazoan tissues. Its biological role is not clear but now Miguel Torres and colleagues demonstrate the phenomenon in action in mammalian tissue for the first time, and suggest a possible function. The authors use an in vivo genetic approach to generate mosaic expression of Myc protein in the mouse epiblast � the embryonic tissue that contains the pluripotent stem cells that generate the whole embryo. They show that cell competition is promoted by a naturally occurring imbalance in Myc dose between neighbouring cells, and demonstrate the elimination of cells with low relative Myc levels through apoptosis. These findings suggest a role for cell competition in the optimization of the epiblast stem cell pool. The cover represents fluorescence-based detection of a cell population shift in embryos undergoing increasing levels of cell competition, from left to right.

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Correspondence

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    An in vivo genetic approach to generate mosaic expression of Myc in the mouse epiblast reveals evidence of cell competition, a tissue homeostasis mechanism first described in Drosophila by which viable but suboptimal cells are eliminated from metazoan tissues; during normal development Myc expression levels in the epiblast are heterogeneous, and endogenous cell competition refines the epiblast cell population through the apoptotic elimination of cells with low relative Myc levels.

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