A Role for Partial Endothelial–Mesenchymal Transitions in Angiogenesis?
The contribution of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions (EMT) in both developmental and pathological conditions has been widely recognized and studied. In a parallel process, governed by a similar set of signaling and transcription factors, endothelial-to-mesenchymal transitions (EndoMT) contribute to heart valve formation and the generation of cancer-associated fibroblasts. During angiogenic sprouting, endothelial cells express many of the same genes and break down basement membrane; however, they retain intercellular junctions and migrate as a connected train of cells rather than as individual cells. This has been termed a partial endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition. A key regulatory check-point determines whether cells undergo a full or a partial epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions/endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition; however, very little is known about how this switch is controlled. Here we discuss these developmental/pathological pathways, with a particular focus on their role in vascular biology.
- Received July 14, 2014.
- Accepted November 10, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.