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SALL4: Engine of Cell Stemness

[ Vol. 14 , Issue. 5 ]


Jianhua Xiong   Pages 400 - 411 ( 12 )


The spalt (sal) family is a class of evolutionarily conserved genes originally identified in Drosophila as homeotic genes required for embryonic development. In vertebrates, the expression of sal-like 4 (SALL4) is specifically enriched in both embryonic and adult stem/stem-like cells. SALL4 is a master regulator that contributes to cell stemness in biological development and tumor growth. Thus, Sall4 has emerged as a target for gene therapy. In addition, numerous mutations affecting the Sall4 gene have been discovered and clinically linked to a series of congenital abnormalities, such as Duane/Duane-related syndromes, ventricular septal defect and premature ovarian failure. This review delineates the underlying mechanisms of key functions of SALL4 and its use as a target for gene therapy. Finally, I summarize and discuss advances made on the application of Sall4 and its functions in diagnostics and treatments for human diseases.


Cancer, Duane syndrome, embryonic development, hematopoiesis, Sall4, stem cell.


National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

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