colony-forming unitmedical dictionary

<cell biology> An individual cell which is able to clone itself into an entire colony of identical cells.

Irradiated mice can have their immune systems reconstituted by the injection of bone marrow cells from a nonirradiated animal. The injected cells form colonies in the spleen (hence s), each colony representing the progeny of a pluripotent stem cell. Operationally, therefore, the number of colony-forming units is a measure of the number of stem cells.

Acronym: CFU

(09 Oct 1997)