Purpose of review: Considerable progress has been made in the field of stem cell research; nonetheless, the use of stem cells for regenerative medicine therapies, for either endogenous tissue repair or cellular grafts post injury, remains a challenge. To better understand how to maintain stem cell potential in vivo and promote differentiation ex vivo, it is fundamentally important to elucidate the interactions between stem cells and their surrounding partners within their distinct niches.
Recent findings: Among the vast array of proteins depicted as mediators for cell-to-cell interactions, connexin-comprised gap junctions play pivotal roles in the regulation of stem cell fate both in vivo and in vitro.
Summary: This review summarizes and illustrates the current knowledge regarding the multifaceted roles of Cx43, specifically, in various stem cell niches.
Keywords: Cell-to-cell interactions; Connexin 43; Stem cell niches; Vascular endothelial cells.