STEM CELLS NEED SUPPORT
Crucial for realizing the therapeutic potential of stem cells is a better understanding of their behaviour. This week (Nature, Vol. 407, No. 6805, 12 Oct 2000), two papers on male fruit-fly (Drosophila) germline cells (those that give rise to sperm) further that understanding with evidence that the way germline stem cells divide is influenced by the support cells that surround them.
Margaret T. Fuller of Stanford University School of Medicine, California and colleagues and Stephen DiNardo and colleagues of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, find that support cells control germline stem cell numbers by ensuring that these stem cells divide 'asymmetrically'.
Stem cells have the potential to produce the variety of highly specialized ('differentiated') cells needed by the body - such as eggs, sperm, blood, skin or liver. Stem cells can either renew themselves by dividing 'symmetrically' to create two daughter stem cells, or they can divide asymmetrically to produce one stem cell daughter and one differentiated daughter cell.
Margaret T. Fuller
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(C) Nature press release.
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