Early Detection Research Network

Emerging role of mucins in epithelial to mesenchymal transition.

Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important and complex phenomenon that determines the aggressiveness of cancer cells. The morphological transformation of cancerous cells is accompanied by various cellular processes such as alterations in cell-cell adhesion, cell matrix degradation, down regulation of epithelial marker Ecadherin and upregulation of mesenchymal markers N-cadherin and Vimentin. Besides these markers several other important tumor antigens/mucins are also involved in the EMT process. Mainly high molecular weight glycoproteins such as mucin molecules (MUC1, MUC4 and MUC16) play a major role in the cellular transformation and signaling alteration in EMT process. In addition to these factors, EMT may be an essential process triggering the emergence or expansion of the CSC population, which slowly results in the initiation of tumor at metastatic sites. Furthermore, mucins have been demonstrated to be involved in the EMT process and also in the enrichment of cancer stem cell population. Mucin mediated EMT is very complex since the key components of tumor microenvironment are also regulating mucin molecules. In this review, we have discussed all the aforementioned factors and their mechanistic involvement for EMT process.

Batra SK, Chugh S, Lakshmanan I, Ponnusamy MP, Seshacharyulu P, Vaz AP

24168188

Curr Cancer Drug Targets, 2013, 13 (9)