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Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2012 Dec;31(3-4):469-78. doi: 10.1007/s10555-012-9377-5.

Mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) as a mechanism for metastatic colonisation in breast cancer.

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Department of Surgery, St. Vincent's Hospital, University of Melbourne, 29 Regent St., Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia 3065.


As yet, there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. Historically, considerable research effort has been concentrated on understanding the processes of metastasis, how a primary tumour locally invades and systemically disseminates using the phenotypic switching mechanism of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT); however, much less is understood about how metastases are then formed. Breast cancer metastases often look (and may even function) as 'normal' breast tissue, a bizarre observation against the backdrop of the organ structure of the lung, liver, bone or brain. Mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET), the opposite of EMT, has been proposed as a mechanism for establishment of the metastatic neoplasm, leading to questions such as: Can MET be clearly demonstrated in vivo? What factors cause this phenotypic switch within the cancer cell? Are these signals/factors derived from the metastatic site (soil) or expressed by the cancer cells themselves (seed)? How do the cancer cells then grow into a detectable secondary tumour and further disseminate? And finally--Can we design and develop therapies that may combat this dissemination switch? This review aims to address these important questions by evaluating long-standing paradigms and novel emerging concepts in the field of epithelial mesencyhmal plasticity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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