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Lab Invest. 2007 Dec;87(12):1218-26. Epub 2007 Oct 8.

EMT tumorigenesis in the mouse mammary gland.

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Center for Comparative Medicine, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The term EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) is used in many settings. This term is used to describe the mechanisms facilitating cellular repositioning and redeployment during embryonic development and tissue reconstruction after injury. Recently, EMT has also been applied to potential mechanisms for malignant progression and has appeared as a specific diagnostic category of tumors. In mice, most 'EMT' tumors have a spindle cell phenotype. The definition of EMT is controversial because spindle cell tumors are not common in humans, especially in human breast cancers. Spindle cell tumors of the mouse mammary gland have been observed for many years where they are usually classified as sarcomas or carcinosarcomas. Genetically engineered mice develop mammary spindle cell tumors that appear to arise in the epithelium and undergo EMT. To better understand the origin and evolution of these spindle cell tumors in progression and metastases, seven cohorts of spindle cell tumors from the archives of the University of California, Davis Mutant Mouse Pathology Laboratory were studied. This study provides experimental and immunohistochemical evidence of EMT showing that dual epithelial and mesenchymal staining of tumor spindle cells identifies some, but not all, EMT-type tumors in the mouse. This suggests that potential EMT tumors are best designated EMT-phenotype tumors.

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