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Open AccessReview

EMT and Stemness—Key Players in Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells

Department of Internal Medicine I, Ulm University, 89081 Ulm, Germany
Division of Gynecological Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the University of Ulm, 89081 Ulm, Germany
Department of Biochemistry, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (UAM), 28029 Madrid, Spain
Department of Cancer Biology, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomedicas “Alberto Sols” (IIBM), CSIC-UAM, 28029 Madrid, Spain
Chronic Diseases and Cancer, Area 3-Instituto Ramon y Cajal de Investigacion Sanitaria (IRYCIS), 28029 Madrid, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Cancers 2019, 11(8), 1136;
Received: 14 July 2019 / Revised: 1 August 2019 / Accepted: 6 August 2019 / Published: 8 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Pancreatic Cancer Research)
Metastasis and tumor progression are the major cause of death in patients suffering from pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Tumor growth and especially dissemination are typically associated with activation of an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) program. This phenotypic transition from an epithelial to a mesenchymal state promotes migration and survival both during development and in cancer progression. When re-activated in pathological contexts such as cancer, this type of developmental process confers additional stemness properties to specific subsets of cells. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a subpopulation of cancer cells with stem-like features that are responsible for the propagation of the tumor as well as therapy resistance and cancer relapse, but also for circulating tumor cell release and metastasis. In support of this concept, EMT transcription factors generate cells with stem cell properties and mediate chemoresistance. However, their role in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma metastasis remains controversial. As such, a better characterization of CSC populations will be crucial in future development of therapies targeting these cells. In this review, we will discuss the latest updates on the mechanisms common to pancreas development and CSC-mediated tumor progression. View Full-Text
Keywords: cancer stem cells; pancreatic cancer; metastasis; EMT; stem cells cancer stem cells; pancreatic cancer; metastasis; EMT; stem cells
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Rodriguez-Aznar, E.; Wiesmüller, L.; Sainz, B., Jr.; Hermann, P.C. EMT and Stemness—Key Players in Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells. Cancers 2019, 11, 1136.

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