The (not so) immortal strand hypothesis

Cristian Tomasetti, Ivana Bozic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Non-random segregation of DNA strands during stem cell replication has been proposed as a mechanism to minimize accumulated genetic errors in stem cells of rapidly dividing tissues. According to this hypothesis, an "immortal" DNA strand is passed to the stem cell daughter and not the more differentiated cell, keeping the stem cell lineage replication error-free. After it was introduced, experimental evidence both in favor and against the hypothesis has been presented. Principal findings: Using a novel methodology that utilizes cancer sequencing data we are able to estimate the rate of accumulation of mutations in healthy stem cells of the colon, blood and head and neck tissues. We find that in these tissues mutations in stem cells accumulate at rates strikingly similar to those expected without the protection from the immortal strand mechanism. Significance: Utilizing an approach that is fundamentally different from previous efforts to confirm or refute the immortal strand hypothesis, we provide evidence against non-random segregation of DNA during stem cell replication. Our results strongly suggest that parental DNA is passed randomly to stem cell daughters and provides new insight into the mechanism of DNA replication in stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-241
Number of pages4
JournalStem Cell Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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