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Review
. 2016 Mar 12;5(3):37.
doi: 10.3390/jcm5030037.

New Insights Into the Crossroads Between EMT and Stemness in the Context of Cancer

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Free PMC article
Review

New Insights Into the Crossroads Between EMT and Stemness in the Context of Cancer

Isabel Fabregat et al. J Clin Med. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an example of cellular plasticity, where an epithelial cell acquires a mesenchymal-like phenotype that increases its migratory and invasive properties. Stemness is the ability of stem cells to proliferate in an asymmetric way that allows them to maintain the reservoir of undifferentiated cells with stem cell identity, but also to produce new differentiated cells. Initial works revealed that activation of the EMT program in epithelial cells induces the acquisition of stem cell properties, which in the context of cancer may contribute to the appearance of tumor initiating cells (TIC). However, a number of groups have recently reported that mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) is required for efficient metastatic colonization and that EMT may be not necessarily associated with stemness. In this review, we summarize recent findings that extend our knowledge about the crossroads between EMT and stemness and their relevance under physiological or pathological conditions.

Keywords: CD133; CD44; EMT; MET; Prrx; Snail; Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β); Twist; Zeb; stem.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Sequential epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) allows tumor cells to acquire the capacity to migrate and later colonize tissues for an efficient metastatic process. See text for details.
Figure 2
Figure 2
The activation of the EMT program may present different threshold levels that couple or uncouple EMT from stemness ability. See text for details.
Figure 3
Figure 3
EMT and Stemness in the crossroads towards chemotherapy resistance. See text for details.

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