Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process involved in embryonic development, but it also plays a role in remote metastasis formation in tumor diseases. During this process cells lose their epithelial features and adopt characteristics of mesenchymal cells. Thereby single tumor cells, which dissolve from the primary tumor, are enabled to invade the blood vessels and travel throughout the body as so called “circulating tumor cells” (CTCs). After leaving the blood stream the reverse process of EMT, the mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET) helps the cells to seed in different tissues, thereby generating the bud of metastasis formation. As metastasis is the main reason for tumor-associated death, CTCs and the EMT process are in the focus of research in recent years. This review summarizes what was already found out about the molecular mechanisms driving EMT, the consequences of EMT for tumor cell detection, and suitable markers for the detection of CTCs which underwent EMT. The research work done in this field could open new roads towards combating cancer.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited