Author(s): Prindull G, Zipori D
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Abstract Epithelial mesenchymal transitions are a remarkable example of cellular plasticity. These transitions are the hallmark of embryo development, are pivotal in cancer progression, and seem to occur infrequently in adult organisms. The reduced incidence of transitions in the adult could result from restrictive functions of the microenvironment that stabilizes adult cell phenotypes and prevents plastic behavior. Multipotential progenitor cells exhibiting a mesenchymal phenotype have been derived from various adult tissues. The ability of these cells to differentiate into all germ layer cell types, raises the question as to whether mesenchymal epithelial transitions occur in the adult organism more frequently than presently appreciated. A series of cytokines are known to promote the transitions between epithelium and mesenchyme. Moreover, several transcription factors and other intracellular regulator molecules have been conclusively shown to mediate these transitions. However, the exact molecular basis of these transitions is yet to be resolved. The identification of the restrictive mechanisms that prevent cellular transitions in adult organisms, which seem to be unleashed in cancerous tissues, may lead to the development of tools for therapeutic tissue repair and effective tumor suppression.
This article was published in Blood
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy