Epithelial‐to‐mesenchymal transition as a learning paradigm
of cell biology

Epithelial‐to‐mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a complex biological process that
occurs during normal embryogenesis and in certain pathological conditions,
particularly in cancer. EMT can be viewed as a cell biology‐based process, since
it involves all the cellular components, including the plasma membrane,
cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus,
lysosomes, and mitochondria, as well as cellular processes, such as regulation of
gene expression and cell cycle, adhesion, migration, signaling, differentiation, and
death. Therefore, we propose that EMT could be used to motivate undergraduate
medical students to learn and understand cell biology. Here, we describe and
discuss the involvement of each cellular component and process during EMT. To
investigate the density with which different cell biology concepts are used in
EMT research, we apply a bibliometric approach. The most frequent cell biology
topics in EMT studies were regulation of gene expression, cell signaling, cell cycle,
cell adhesion, cell death, cell differentiation, and cell migration. Finally, we
suggest that the study of EMT could be incorporated into undergraduate
disciplines to improve cell biology understanding among premedical, medical and
biomedical students.
cancer, cell biology, education, EMT, epithelial‐to‐mesenchymal transition, medicine