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Journal of Oncology
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 865816, 13 pages
Review Article

The Regulatory Role of MicroRNAs in EMT and Cancer

Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet Huddinge, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

Received 21 August 2014; Accepted 9 October 2014

Academic Editor: Panos Papageorgis

Copyright © 2015 Apostolos Zaravinos. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a powerful process in tumor invasion, metastasis, and tumorigenesis and describes the molecular reprogramming and phenotypic changes that are characterized by a transition from polarized immotile epithelial cells to motile mesenchymal cells. It is now well known that miRNAs are important regulators of malignant transformation and metastasis. The aberrant expression of the miR-200 family in cancer and its involvement in the initiation and progression of malignant transformation has been well demonstrated. The metastasis suppressive role of the miR-200 members is strongly associated with a pathologic EMT. This review describes the most recent advances regarding the influence of miRNAs in EMT and the control they exert in major signaling pathways in various cancers. The ability of the autocrine TGF-β/ZEB/miR-200 signaling regulatory network to control cell plasticity between the epithelial and mesenchymal state is further discussed. Various miRNAs are reported to directly target EMT transcription factors and components of the cell architecture, as well as miRNAs that are able to reverse the EMT process by targeting the Notch and Wnt signaling pathways. The link between cancer stem cells and EMT is also reported and the most recent developments regarding clinical trials that are currently using anti-miRNA constructs are further discussed.