Signaling in the stem cell niche: regulating cell fate, function and plasticity

Chacón-Martínez CA, Koester J, Wickström SA

Development 2018 08;145(15)

PMID: 30068689


Stem cells have the ability to self-renew and differentiate along multiple lineages, driving tissue homeostasis and regeneration. Paradigms of unidirectional, hierarchical differentiation trajectories observed in embryonic and hematopoietic stem cells have traditionally been applied to tissue-resident stem cells. However, accumulating evidence implicates stemness as a bidirectional, dynamic state that is largely governed by the niche, which facilitates plasticity and adaptability to changing conditions. In this Review, we discuss mechanisms of cell fate regulation through niche-derived cues, with a particular focus on epithelial stem cells of the mammalian skin, intestine and lung. We discuss a spectrum of niche-derived biochemical, mechanical and architectural inputs that define stem cell states during morphogenesis, homeostasis and regeneration, and highlight how these diverse inputs influence stem cell plasticity.

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