We present the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) from two perspectives: experimental/technological and theoretical. We review the state of the current understanding of the regulatory networks that underlie EMT in three physiological contexts: embryonic development, wound healing, and metastasis. We describe the existing experimental systems and manipulations used to better understand the molecular participants and factors that influence EMT and metastasis. We review the mathematical models of the regulatory networks involved in EMT, with a particular emphasis on the network motifs (such as coupled feedback loops) that can generate intermediate hybrid states between the epithelial and mesenchymal states. Ultimately, the understanding gained about these networks should be translated into methods to control phenotypic outcomes, especially in the context of cancer therapeutic strategies. We present emerging theories of how to drive the dynamics of a network toward a desired dynamical attractor (e.g. an epithelial cell state) and emerging synthetic biology technologies to monitor and control the state of cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology