Asymmetric cell division of stem and progenitor cells during homeostasis and cancer.
Gómez-López S., Lerner RG., Petritsch C.
Stem and progenitor cells are characterized by their ability to self-renew and produce differentiated progeny. A fine balance between these processes is achieved through controlled asymmetric divisions and is necessary to generate cellular diversity during development and to maintain adult tissue homeostasis. Disruption of this balance may result in premature depletion of the stem/progenitor cell pool, or abnormal growth. In many tissues, including the brain, dysregulated asymmetric divisions are associated with cancer. Whether there is a causal relationship between asymmetric cell division defects and cancer initiation is as yet not known. Here, we review the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate asymmetric cell divisions in the neural lineage and discuss the potential connections between this regulatory machinery and cancer.