CiteWeb id: 20090000049

CiteWeb score: 6155

DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.11.007

Most adult tissues and organs arise from a series of conversions of epithelial cells to mesenchymal cells, through the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the reverse process (mesenchymal to epithelial transition [MET]). Epithelial cells establish close contacts with their neighbors and an apicobasal axis of polarity through the sequential arrangement of adherens junctions, desmosomes, and tight junctions. The epithelial cell layer maintains global communication through gap junctional complexes, and it remains separated from adjacent tissues by a basal lamina. Epithelia have the capacity to function as barriers or in absorption. Conversely, mesenchymal or stromal cells are loosely organized in a three-dimensional extracellular matrix and comprise connective tissues adjacent to epithelia. The conversion of epithelial cells to mesenchymal cells is fundamental for embryonic development and involves profound phenotypic changes that include the loss of cell-cell adhesion, the loss of cell polarity, and the acquisition of migratory and invasive properties. This review presents the events in development that involve EMT and discusses its relevance in tissue homeostasis, tissue repair, fibrosis, and carcinoma progression. We also examine the impact of EMT on drug resistance and explore recent findings that reinforce the concept of EMT as a major driver of morphogenesis and tumor progression.

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