This proposal requests support for a Keystone Symposia meeting entitled Epithelial Plasticity and Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition, organized by Rik Derynck, Harold A. Chapman and Raymond Runyan, which will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from January 21 - 26, 2011. Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a basic cellular process in which epithelial cells lose epithelial properties, e.g., their polarized organization and cell-cell junctions, undergo changes in cytoskeleton and cell shape, acquire mesenchymal characteristics and become migratory and invasive. EMT was first recognized as distinct cell differentiation process in the late 70's, and has received increasing attention, as it not only occurs in normal development but is also an integral component of various pathological conditions. An increasing understanding of the signaling and transcription processes that mediate EMT is starting to provide a framework of the underlying molecular mechanisms. This conference is intended to highlight the progress in our understanding of EMT against the background of the inherent plasticity of epithelial cells. The purpose of this conference will be to bring together scientists who work on disparate aspects of epithelial plasticity and EMT in order to foster better understanding across disease and model systems and to highlight new methodology to interrogate EMT in disease, including heart and lung disease. We expect to see an integration of basic scientists and scientists with translational interest, and clinician-scientists. Because this is not primarily an insulated lung community meeting, we have designed this meeting to be an opportunity for investigators from both the lung and heart research communities to broaden the scope of their exposure to the latest in mechanistic studies of epithelial differentiation and EMT.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a basic cellular process involved in both embryonic development and - in adults - in wound healing, as well as in the pathological processes of tissue fibrosis and metastasis. Its role in wound healing and in the pathologies of fibrosis and metastasis make it clear that an understanding of the process could lead to specific therapeutic treatments. The goal of this Keystone Symposia meeting on Epithelial Plasticity and Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition is to highlight the progress in our understanding of EMT against the background of the inherent plasticity of epithelial cells.