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The Cell-Cycle State of Stem Cells Determines Cell Fate Propensity

Biology behind stem cells could improve systems to deliver treatments or cells for tissue repair

Stem cells can divide to maintain the source of new cells or can commit irrevocably to becoming a specialised cell, such as a liver or pancreas cell. Now, researchers describe for the first time the switches that determine how stem cells make that crucial decision. Their work might enable stem cells to be converted into a range of adult tissues more efficiently and more homogeneously.

The team looked at the activity of key genes and proteins during the cell cycle - the processes by which a cell divides - in human pluripotent stem cells. They found that the molecular decision to continue to divide or to differentiate - to commit to a pathway towards a defined tissue type - is made during a restricted phase of the cell cycle.

Journal: Cell

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FUCCI-hESC colony with individual cells at different stages of the cell cycle.

Siim Pauklin

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