Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is critical for appropriate embryonic development, and this process is re-engaged in adults during wound healing, tissue regeneration, organ fibrosis, and cancer progression. Inflammation is a crucial conspirator in the emergence of EMT in adults but is absent during embryonic development. As highlighted in this Review series, EMT is now a recognized mechanism for dispersing cells in embryos, forming fibroblasts/mesenchymal cells in injured tissues, and initiating metastasis of epithelial cancer cells. Also discussed are proposals to classify EMT into three subtypes, each of which has different functional consequences.
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