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The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology 36 (4): 684-94 (2004)
A molecular view of stem cell and cancer cell self-renewal.
Robert Y L Tsai
With the recent advances in cell biology and molecular genetics, scientists were able to isolate and culture tissue-specific stem cells from various sources and define their properties. The challenge has now shifted to understanding the genetic programs controlling the stem cell state, i.e. self-renewal and multipotential. Cracking the molecular codes that govern the stem cell state turns out to be a difficult task. This is in part because a single gene may exhibit distinct activities when expressed in different cell types. Comprehending the cell-context dependent readout of any given gene requires an integrated knowledge of the complex cellular machinery, a platform which can be provided by the research on stem cells. This review is an attempt to formulate a model for the self-renewal machinery operating in stem cells and cancer cells. Insight into this issue at the molecular and cellular levels will no doubt facilitate the realization of the stem cell potential in both regenerative medicine and anticancer therapy.