- basal cells
General term for relatively undifferentiated cells in an epithelial sheet that give rise to more specialized cells (act as stem cells). In the stratified squamous epithelium of mammalian skin the basal cells of the epidermis (stratum basale) give rise by an unequal division to another basal cell and to cells that progress through the spinous, granular and horny layers, becoming progressively more keratinised, the outermost being shed as squames. In olfactory mucosa the basal cells give rise to olfactory and sustentacular cells. In the epithelium of epididymis their function is unclear, but they probably serve as stem cells.
Dictionary of molecular biology. 2004.