Towards decoding the coupled decision-making of metabolism and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer

Cancer cells have the plasticity to adjust their metabolic phenotypes for survival and metastasis. During metastasis, a developmental program known as the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a critical role. There is extensive cross-talk between metabolism and EMT, but how this leads to coordinated physiological changes is still uncertain. The elusive connection between metabolism and EMT compromises the efficacy of metabolic therapies targeting metastasis. In this review, we aim for clarifying causation between metabolism and EMT based on recent experimental studies and propose integrated theoretical-experimental efforts to better understand the coupled decision-making of metabolism and EMT.

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