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Development. 2005 Jul;132(14):3151-61.

The Snail genes as inducers of cell movement and survival: implications in development and cancer.

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Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante CSIC-UMH, Apartado 18, Sant Joan d'Alacant, 03550, Spain.


The functions of the Snail family of zinc-finger transcription factors are essential during embryonic development. One of their best-known functions is to induce epithelial to mesenchymal transitions (EMTs), which convert epithelial cells into migratory mesenchymal cells. In recent years, many orthologues of the Snail family have been identified throughout the animal kingdom, and their study is providing new clues about the EMT-dependent and -independent functions of Snail proteins. Here, we discuss these functions and how they influence cell behaviour during development and during diseases such as metastatic cancer. From these findings, we propose that Snail genes act primarily as survival factors and inducers of cell movement, rather than as inducers of EMT or cell fate.

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