Emerging roles of exosomes during epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cancer progression

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2015 Apr;40:60-71. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2015.02.008. Epub 2015 Feb 23.


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a highly conserved process defined by the loss of epithelial characteristics, and acquisition of the mesenchymal phenotype. In addition to its central role in development, EMT has been implicated as a cellular process during tumourigenesis which facilitates tumour cell invasion and metastasis. The EMT process has been largely defined by signal transduction networks and transcriptional factors that activate mesenchymal-associated gene expression. Knowledge of secretome components that influence EMT including secreted proteins/peptides and membrane-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) (i.e., exosomes) has emerged. Here we review EV cargo associated with inducing the hallmarks of EMT and cancer progression, modulators of cell transformation, invasion/migration, angiogenesis, and components involved in establishing the metastatic niche.

Keywords: Cancer progression; EMT; Epithelial–mesenchymal transition; Exosomes; Extracellular vesicles; Microparticles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition*
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*