Stem cells are a unique subtype in an a developing or adult organism, which create all other cells through the process of differentiation. Stem cells are also characterized by their ability to divide in a potentially unlimited manner while fully retaining their stem cell characteristics (self-renewal). Because of these divisions, they are prone to multiple stresses and perils associated with maintaining their genome integrity at different stages of the cell cycle. Most stresses directly target the genome, by damaging the DNA or affecting faithful chromosome segregation. Some are metabolic or environmental toxins, but without direct DNA damage effect. While terminally differentiated cells are constantly replaced when damaged, every even the most minute effect onto stem cells is likely to become noticeable further downstream during tissue differentiation and homeostasis.
This collection seeks to present research into various molecular and cellular mechanisms stem cells employ when responding to such stress. A large body of past and present research focuses on the embryonic stem cells, which are already cultured and studied for many years, but by now also adult somatic stem cells became the focus of stress studies. Presented are selected open-access publications from the year 2014 on.