Epithelium-to-mesenchyme transitions (EMTs) are characterized by morphological and behavioral changes in cells. During an EMT, E-cadherin is downregulated while N-cadherin is upregulated. The goal of this study was to understand the role cadherin switching plays in EMT using a classical model system: transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1)-mediated EMT in mammary epithelial cells. We showed that stress fibers and focal adhesions are increased, and cell-cell junctions are decreased in response to TGF-β1. Moreover, these changes were reversible upon removal of TGF-β1. Downregulation of E-cadherin and upregulation of N-cadherin were both transcriptional. Neither experimental knockdown nor experimental overexpression of N-cadherin interfered with the morphological changes. In addition, the morphological changes associated with EMT preceded the downregulation of E-cadherin. Interestingly, TGF-β1-induced motility in N-cadherin-knockdown cells was significantly reduced. Together, these data suggest that cadherin switching is necessary for increased motility but is not required for the morphological changes that accompany EMT.
- Epithelim-to-mesenchyme transition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology