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Cycling progenitors maintain epithelia while diverse cell types contribute to repair



It has recently been shown that stem and progenitor cells undergo population self-renewal to maintain epithelial homeostasis. The fate of individual cells is stochastic but the production of proliferating and differentiating cells is balanced across the population. This new paradigm, originating in mouse epidermis and since extended to mouse oesophagus and mouse and Drosophila intestine, is in contrast to the long held model of epithelial maintenance by exclusively asymmetric division of stem cells. Recent lineage tracing studies have now shown that wound responses vary between tissues, and that a stem cell reserve is not essential as cycling progenitors and even differentiating cells contribute to regeneration.