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J Clin Med. 2016 Mar 12;5(3). pii: E37. doi: 10.3390/jcm5030037.

New Insights into the Crossroads between EMT and Stemness in the Context of Cancer.

Author information

1
Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), L'Hospitalet, Barcelona 08007, Spain. ifabregat@idibell.cat.
2
Department of Physiological Sciences II, University of Barcelona, Barcelona 08007, Spain. ifabregat@idibell.cat.
3
Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), L'Hospitalet, Barcelona 08007, Spain. amalfettone@idibell.cat.
4
Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), L'Hospitalet, Barcelona 08007, Spain. jsoukupova@idibell.cat.

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

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