For citation purposes: Liu J, Shen JX, Hu JL, Dou XW, Zhang GJ. Role of epithelial?mesenchymal transition in invasion and metastasis of breast cancers. OA Cancer 2013 Dec 30;1(2):16.

Critical review

Basic Cancer Biology

Role of epithelial–mesenchymal transition in invasion and metastasis of breast cancers

J Liu, JX Shen,, JL Hu,, XW Dou, GJ Zhang

Authors affiliations

(1) Cancer Research Center, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, Guangdong Province, P.R. China

(2) Breast Center, Cancer Hospital of Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, Guangdong Province, P.R. China

(3) Department of Oral Surgery and Pharmacology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

* Corresponding author Email:

† Both these authors contributed equally to this study.



Invasion and metastasis are the main causes for the death of patients with breast cancers. Epithelial–mesenchymal transition is implicated as a vital process in the invasion and metastasis of breast cancers, with endowing migratory and invasive cancer cells associated with metastatic capability. Increasing evidences demonstrated that epithelial–mesenchymal transition-initiating cells possessed mesenchymal features and stem-like traits that are resistant to chemotherapy. In this review, we summarise the physiological and pathological roles of epithelial–mesenchymal transitions, new insights in the molecular mechanisms of regulating epithelial–mesenchymal transition during breast cancer invasion and metastasis, and its implication in chemotherapy resistance.


Therefore, it is challenging to probe and uncover the mechanistic regulation of oncogenic epithelial–mesenchymal transition, which will contribute to our understanding of metastatic dissemination and the role of targeting epithelial–mesenchymal transition with existing therapy as well as developing new drugs, in order to prevent metastasis and to diminish distant recurrence in patients with breast cancers.

Licensee OA Publishing London 2013. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)