It has become increasingly obvious that the notion of a terminally differentiated cell is likely a simplified concept. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), during which epithelial cells assume a mesenchymal phenotype, is a key event occurring during normal development and pathological processes. Multiple extracellular stimuli and transcriptional regulators can trigger EMT, but how such distinct signaling pathways orchestrate the complex cellular events that facilitate EMT is not well understood. In this issue of the JCI, Venkov et al. report on their examination of fibroblasts resulting from EMT and describe a novel protein-DNA complex that is essential for transcription of fibroblast-specific protein 1 (FSP1) and sufficient to induce early EMT events (see the related article beginning on page 482). Collectively, their results suggest that this complex is an important regulator of the EMT transcriptome.
Yingqi Teng, Michael Zeisberg, Raghu Kalluri