The metastatic spread of tumor epithelial cells accounts for over 90% of cancer-specific mortality; however, the molecular mechanisms that govern tumor spread and distant recolonization remain unclear. In this issue of JCI, Rokavec and colleagues shine light on this murky aspect of tumor biology by focusing through the lens of microenvironmental contributions, namely inflammation, as driving signals that set off a delicate, intracellular feedback loop among cytokine receptors, transcription factors and miRNAs. This study provides in vivo evidence and identifies molecular players behind the elusive switch that drives the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition.
Julienne L. Carstens, Sara Lovisa, Raghu Kalluri
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