EMT, One of Many Morphological Transitions in Cellular Phase Space.

TitleEMT, One of Many Morphological Transitions in Cellular Phase Space.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMontell DJ
JournalMethods Mol Biol
Date Published2021

The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an enticingly simple mechanism that converts stationary epithelial cells into migratory mesenchymal cells. EMT is meant to provide a unified explanation for phenomena as complex as gastrulation and metastasis. However, cell movements turn out to be diverse, and many are collective. Cells commonly migrate in clusters, strands, sheets, elongating tubes, or in fluid-like masses. Moreover, plenty of cells move without activating the EMT program. Here I propose that EMT can be understood as one of many types of transitions in a broader landscape-or phase space-of cell morphologies and behaviors. Throughout biology, and at multiple scales, complexity arises from the combinatorial deployment of simple, modular components. I propose that diversity of cell shapes and behaviors similarly arises from combinatorial use of modular biomechanical properties.

Alternate JournalMethods Mol Biol
PubMed ID32939709
Grant ListR01 GM046425 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States