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      New insights into the mechanisms of epithelial–mesenchymal transition and implications for cancer

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      Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology

      Springer Nature America, Inc

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          Abstract

          Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a cellular programme that is known to be crucial for embryogenesis, wound healing and malignant progression. During EMT, cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions are remodelled, which leads to the detachment of epithelial cells from each other and the underlying basement membrane, and a new transcriptional programme is activated to promote the mesenchymal fate. In the context of neoplasias, EMT confers on cancer cells increased tumour-initiating and metastatic potential and a greater resistance to elimination by several therapeutic regimens. In this Review, we discuss recent findings on the mechanisms and roles of EMT in normal and neoplastic tissues, and the cell-intrinsic signals that sustain expression of this programme. We also highlight how EMT gives rise to a variety of intermediate cell states between the epithelial and the mesenchymal state, which could function as cancer stem cells. In addition, we describe the contributions of the tumour microenvironment in inducing EMT and the effects of EMT on the immunobiology of carcinomas.

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          Most cited references 208

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          Epithelial-mesenchymal transitions in development and disease.

          The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays crucial roles in the formation of the body plan and in the differentiation of multiple tissues and organs. EMT also contributes to tissue repair, but it can adversely cause organ fibrosis and promote carcinoma progression through a variety of mechanisms. EMT endows cells with migratory and invasive properties, induces stem cell properties, prevents apoptosis and senescence, and contributes to immunosuppression. Thus, the mesenchymal state is associated with the capacity of cells to migrate to distant organs and maintain stemness, allowing their subsequent differentiation into multiple cell types during development and the initiation of metastasis.
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            The basics of epithelial-mesenchymal transition.

            The origins of the mesenchymal cells participating in tissue repair and pathological processes, notably tissue fibrosis, tumor invasiveness, and metastasis, are poorly understood. However, emerging evidence suggests that epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMTs) represent one important source of these cells. As we discuss here, processes similar to the EMTs associated with embryo implantation, embryogenesis, and organ development are appropriated and subverted by chronically inflamed tissues and neoplasias. The identification of the signaling pathways that lead to activation of EMT programs during these disease processes is providing new insights into the plasticity of cellular phenotypes and possible therapeutic interventions.
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              The epithelial-mesenchymal transition generates cells with properties of stem cells.

              The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key developmental program that is often activated during cancer invasion and metastasis. We here report that the induction of an EMT in immortalized human mammary epithelial cells (HMLEs) results in the acquisition of mesenchymal traits and in the expression of stem-cell markers. Furthermore, we show that those cells have an increased ability to form mammospheres, a property associated with mammary epithelial stem cells. Independent of this, stem cell-like cells isolated from HMLE cultures form mammospheres and express markers similar to those of HMLEs that have undergone an EMT. Moreover, stem-like cells isolated either from mouse or human mammary glands or mammary carcinomas express EMT markers. Finally, transformed human mammary epithelial cells that have undergone an EMT form mammospheres, soft agar colonies, and tumors more efficiently. These findings illustrate a direct link between the EMT and the gain of epithelial stem cell properties.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology
                Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol
                Springer Nature America, Inc
                1471-0072
                1471-0080
                November 20 2018
                Article
                10.1038/s41580-018-0080-4
                30459476
                © 2018

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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