Spontaneous cell fusion between two cells of different lineages will originate new hybrid cells that have different features from the original parent cells. It has been shown that injury to a tissue can enhance spontaneous cell-cell fusion events. If one of the parent cells of a cell-cell fusion is highly plastic, such as a stem cell, and the other is a somatic cell, their fusion can be followed by reprogramming events that can generate new hybrid pluripotent cells. These, in turn, have the potential to differentiate and regenerate the damaged tissue. However, if this process is deregulated, this would provide a mechanism for cancer development.
J. Cell. Physiol. 223: 6-13, 2010. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.