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Hybrid Epithelial/Mesenchymal State in Cancer Metastasis: Clinical Significance and Regulatory Mechanisms

by Tsai-Tsen Liao 1,2 and Muh-Hwa Yang 3,4,5,*
1
Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei 110, Taiwan
2
Cell Physiology and Molecular Image Research Center, Wan Fang Hospital, Taipei Medical University, Taipei 110, Taiwan
3
Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei 112, Taiwan
4
Cancer Progression Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei 112, Taiwan
5
Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Oncology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei 112, Taiwan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Cells 2020, 9(3), 623; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9030623
Received: 31 January 2020 / Revised: 29 February 2020 / Accepted: 3 March 2020 / Published: 4 March 2020
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been well recognized for its essential role in cancer progression as well as normal tissue development. In cancer cells, activation of EMT permits the cells to acquire migratory and invasive abilities and stem-like properties. However, simple categorization of cancer cells into epithelial and mesenchymal phenotypes misleads the understanding of the complicated metastatic process, and contradictory results from different studies also indicate the limitation of application of EMT theory in cancer metastasis. Nowadays, growing evidence suggests the existence of an intermediate status between epithelial and mesenchymal phenotypes, i.e., the “hybrid epithelial-mesenchymal (hybrid E/M)” state, provides a possible explanation for those conflicting results. Appearance of hybrid E/M phenotype offers a more plastic status for cancer cells to adapt the stressful environment for proceeding metastasis. In this article, we review the biological importance of the dynamic changes between the epithelial and the mesenchymal states. The regulatory mechanisms encompassing the translational, post-translational, and epigenetic control for this complex and plastic status are also discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: cancer; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; hybrid; metastasis cancer; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; hybrid; metastasis
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MDPI and ACS Style

Liao, T.-T.; Yang, M.-H. Hybrid Epithelial/Mesenchymal State in Cancer Metastasis: Clinical Significance and Regulatory Mechanisms. Cells 2020, 9, 623.

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