The evolution of the cancer cell into a metastatic entity is the major cause of death in patients with cancer. Activation of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) endows invasive and metastatic properties upon cancer cells that favor successful colonization of distal target organs. The observation that in many cancers distant metastases resemble the epithelial phenotype of primary tumors has led to speculation that the disseminated tumor cells recruited to the target organs undergo mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET). However, the MET cascade has not been recapitulated in vivo, and the cellular and molecular regulators that promote MET remain unknown. In a recent report, using a model of spontaneous breast cancer, we have shown that bone marrow–derived myeloid progenitor cells in the premetastatic lung secrete the proteoglycan versican, which induces MET of metastatic tumor cells and accelerates metastases. This review summarizes recent progress in MET research, outlines a unique paracrine cross-talk between the microenvironment and the cancer cells, which promotes tumor outgrowth in the metastatic organ, and discusses opportunities for novel antimetastatic approaches for cancer therapy. Cancer Res; 72(19); 4883–9. ©2012 AACR.
- Received March 30, 2012.
- Revision received May 1, 2012.
- Accepted May 14, 2012.
- ©2012 American Association for Cancer Research.