Stem cells are progenitors that maintain stemness (self-renewal) while generating diverse differentiated cell types. Thus, a stem cell's decision to self-renew or to differentiate has profound consequences in development, homeostasis and regeneration.
Recently, the role of cancer stem cells in several types of malignancies has been demonstrated; many parallels exist between normal and cancer stem cells — specifically, their ability to self-renew extensively and to generate a wide variety of differentiated cell types. Thus, elucidation of the molecular mechanisms leading to self-renewal or to differentiation is beneficial for both stem cell and cancer biology.
We use Drosophila neural stem cells as a model to study regulation of self-renewal versus differentiation.