Stem Cells and Asymmetric Cell Division

  • Frank Hirth


Asymmetric stem cell division is a fundamental process used to generate cellular diversity and to provide a source of new cells in developing and adult ­organisms. Asymmetric stem cell division leads to another stem cell via ­self-renewal, and a second cell type which can be either a differentiating progenitor or a ­postmitotic cell. Experimental studies in model organisms including the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster and the laboratory mouse, Mus ­musculus, have identified interrelated mechanisms that regulate ­asymmetric stem cell division from polarity formation and mitotic spindle orientation to asymmetric segregation of cell fate determinants and growth control. These mechanisms are mediated by evolutionary conserved molecules including Aurora-A, aPKC, Mud/NuMa, Lgl, Numb and Brat/TRIM-NHL, which in turn regulate a binary switch between stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. The mechanistic insights into asymmetric cell division have enhanced our understanding of stem cell biology and are of major therapeutic interest for regenerative medicine as ­asymmetrically dividing stem cells provide a powerful source for targeted cell replacement and tissue regeneration.


Stem Cell Mitotic Spindle Polarity Formation Asymmetric Cell Division Asymmetric Localisation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Argonaute protein 1






Brain tumor


Cell division cycle 2


Cell division cycle 42


Cell division cycle 25


cyclin dependent kinase




Central Nervous System


cellular myelocytomatosis oncogene


Drosophila atypical protein kinase C




Discs large


Drosophila melanogaster Partitioning defective 6


embryonic stem cell


epithelial cell transforming gene 2


G-protein alpha, subunit i


Ganglion Mother Cell


G-protein 0, Locomotion defects domain


guanosine diphosphatase


guanosine triphosphatase




Kinesin heavy chain 73


Lethal (2) giant larvae




Mushroom body defect




NCL-1, HT2A, and LIN-41 domain


Nuclear Mitotic apparatus


partitioning defective


partitioning defective 3


partitioning defective 6


Post synaptic density 95, Discs large, and Zonula occludens-1 domain


Partner of Inscuteable


Partner of Numb




Ribonucleic Acid


Spaghetti squash


tripartite motif protein 3


tripartite motif protein 32


Ventral Nerve Cord



Work in the Hirth laboratory is supported by grants from the UK Medical Research Council (G070149), the Royal Society (Hirth/2007/R2), the Parkinson’s Disease Society (G-0714), the Motor Neurone Disease Association (Hirth/Oct07/6233), and the Fondation Thierry Latran (Hirth/DrosALS).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neuroscience, MRC Centre for Neurodegeneration Research, Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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