Sensing Stemness

Teresa V. Bowman, Eirini Trompouki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are formed embryonically during a dynamic developmental process and later reside in adult hematopoietic organs in a quiescent state. In response to their changing environment, HSCs have evolved diverse mechanisms to cope with intrinsic and extrinsic challenges. This review intends to discuss how HSCs and other stem cells co-opted DNA and RNA innate immune pathways to fine-tune developmental processes. Recent Findings: Innate immune receptors for nucleic acids like the RIG-I-like family receptors and members of DNA sensing pathways are expressed in HSCs and other stem cells. Even though the “classic” role of these receptors is recognition of foreign DNA or RNA from pathogens, it was recently shown that cellular transposable element (TE) RNA or R-loops activate such receptors, serving as endogenous triggers of inflammatory signaling that can shape HSC formation during development and regeneration. Summary: Endogenous TEs and R-loops activate RNA and DNA sensors, which trigger distinct inflammatory signals to fine-tune stem cell decisions. This phenomenon could have broad implications for diverse somatic stem cells, for a variety of diseases and during aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-228
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Stem Cell Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • DNA sensors
  • Hematopoietic stem cells
  • Plasticity
  • R-loops
  • RNA sensors
  • Transposable elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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