The network of epithelial–mesenchymal transition: potential new targets for tumor resistance

Danupon Nantajit, Dong Lin, Jian-Jian Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Purpose: In multiple cell metazoans, the ability of polarized epithelial cells to convert to motile mesenchymal cells in order to relocate to another location is governed by a unique process termed epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). While being an essential process of cellular plasticity for normal tissue and organ developments, EMT is found to be involved in an array of malignant phenotypes of tumor cells including proliferation and invasion, angiogenesis, stemness of cancer cells and resistance to chemo-radiotherapy. Although EMT is being extensively studied and demonstrated to play a key role in tumor metastasis and in sustaining tumor hallmarks, there is a lack of clear picture of the overall EMT signaling network, wavering the potential clinical trials targeting EMT. Methods: In this review, we highlight the potential key therapeutic targets of EMT linked with tumor aggressiveness, hypoxia, angiogenesis and cancer stem cells, emphasizing on an emerging EMT-associated NF-κB/HER2/STAT3 pathway in radioresistance of breast cancer stem cells. Results: Further definition of cancer stem cell repopulation due to EMT-controlled tumor microenvironment will help to understand how tumors exploit the EMT mechanisms for their survival and expansion advantages. Conclusions: The knowledge of EMT will offer more effective targets in clinical trials to treat therapy-resistant metastatic lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1697-1713
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 22 2015


  • Cancer stem cell
  • Epithelial–mesenchymal transition
  • Metastasis
  • Therapeutic resistance
  • Tumor aggressiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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