Snail family regulation and epithelial mesenchymal transitions in breast cancer progression

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2010 Jun;15(2):135-47. doi: 10.1007/s10911-010-9179-8. Epub 2010 May 9.


Since its initial description, the interconversion between epithelial and mesenchymal cells (designed as epithelial-mesenchymal or mesenchymal-epithelial transition, EMT or MET, respectively) has received special attention since it provides epithelial cells with migratory features. Different studies using cell lines have identified cytokines, intercellular signaling elements and transcriptional factors capable of regulating this process. Particularly, the identification of Snail family members as key effectors of EMT has opened new ways for the study of this cellular process. In this article we discuss the molecular pathways that control EMT, showing a very tight and interdependent regulation. We also analyze the contribution of EMT and Snail genes in the process of tumorigenesis using the mammary gland as cellular model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Dedifferentiation
  • Cell Transdifferentiation*
  • Disease Progression
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / physiopathology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Cadherins
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors