Review

Histochemistry and Cell Biology

, 130:481

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Molecular and pathological signatures of epithelial–mesenchymal transitions at the cancer invasion front

  • Olivier De WeverAffiliated withLaboratory of Experimental Cancer Research, Department of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine, Ghent University Hospital Email author 
  • , Patrick PauwelsAffiliated withDepartment of Pathology, Ghent University Hospital
  • , Bram De CraeneAffiliated withMolecular and Cellular Oncology Unit, Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, VIBDepartment of Molecular Biology, Ghent University
  • , Michèle SabbahAffiliated withINSERM U 673
  • , Shahin EmamiAffiliated withINSERM U 673
  • , Gérard RedeuilhAffiliated withINSERM U 673
  • , Christian GespachAffiliated withINSERM U 673Laboratory of Molecular and Clinical Oncology of Solid Tumors, Faculté de Médecine, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6
  • , Marc BrackeAffiliated withLaboratory of Experimental Cancer Research, Department of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine, Ghent University Hospital
  • , Geert BerxAffiliated withMolecular and Cellular Oncology Unit, Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, VIBDepartment of Molecular Biology, Ghent University Email author 

Abstract

Reduction of epithelial cell–cell adhesion via the transcriptional repression of cadherins in combination with the acquisition of mesenchymal properties are key determinants of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT is associated with early stages of carcinogenesis, cancer invasion and recurrence. Furthermore, the tumor stroma dictates EMT through intensive bidirectional communication. The pathological analysis of EMT signatures is critically, especially to determine the presence of cancer cells at the resection margins of a tumor. When diffusion barriers disappear, EMT markers may be detected in sera from cancer patients. The detection of EMT signatures is not only important for diagnosis but can also be exploited to enhance classical chemotherapy treatments. In conclusion, further detailed understanding of the contextual cues and molecular mediators that control EMT will be required in order to develop diagnostic tools and small molecule inhibitors with potential clinical implications.

Keywords

Stroma Cadherin EMT Metastasis Therapy