Stem cells are characterized by the ability to renew themselves (self-renewal) and the capability to generate all the cells within the human body. These features are achieved by a fine-tuned control of proliferation and maintenance of the undifferentiated condition. Transcription factors such as Nanog, Sox, and Oct-4 and extrinsic factors (LIF, BMP, and FGF) have been demonstrated to play a critical role in the regulation of stemness. Because stem cells are under consideration in clinics for cell-based therapy, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying stemness. In this chapter, we revisit stem cell biology and add a new layer of complexity. In particular, we will discuss the role of the p53 family (p53, p63, and p73) in the regulation of self-renewal, proliferation, and differentiation of stem cells.
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