EMT and plasticity trajectories in development and disease
Instituto de Neurociencias (CSIC-UMH), Alicante, Spain
Epithelial homeostasis is crucial for maintaining tissue architecture and must therefore be tightly regulated in the adult. In contrast, embryonic cells show a high degree of epithelial plasticity necessary for proper morphogenesis and, in particular, for the massive cell movements that occur during gastrulation and neural crest delamination, among other processes. We have been interested in the analysis of cell movements, plasticity and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions (EMTs) for many years, and have found that aberrant activation of developmental EMT-like programs in adult cells leads to various pathologies, such as tumor progression and organ degeneration. Lineage tracing and single-cell transcriptomics have allowed us to reveal how EMT programs are implemented along cellular plasticity trajectories in three different settings, namely neural crest, renal fibrosis and breast cancer, and how this knowledge can help us design better therapeutic strategies.