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Adult tissue-specific stem cells have the capacity to self-renew and generate functional differentiated cells that replenish lost cells throughout an organism's lifetime. Studies on stem cells from diverse systems have shown that stem cell function is controlled by extracellular cues from the niche and by intrinsic genetic programs within the stem cell. Here, we review the remarkable progress recently made in research regarding the stem cell niche. We compare the differences and commonalitiesdoi:10.1146/annurev.cellbio.21.012704.131525 pmid:16212509 fatcat:gvvb4vseszd2jnduqjjaiflquu