Cell transdifferentiation is characterized by loss of some phenotypes along with acquisition of new phenotypes in differentiated cells. The differentiated state of a given cell is not irreversible. It depends on the up- and downregulation exerted by specific molecules.
We report here that HCCR-1, previously shown to play an oncogenic role in human cancers, induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) in human and mouse, respectively. The stem cell factor receptor CD117/c-Kit was induced in this transdifferentiated (EMT) sarcoma tissues. This MET occurring in HCCR-1 transfected cells is reminiscent of the transdifferentiation process during nephrogenesis. Indeed, expression of HCCR-1 was observed during the embryonic development of the kidney. This suggests that HCCR-1 might be involved in the transdifferentiation process of cancer stem cell.
Therefore, we propose that HCCR-1 may be a regulatory factor that stimulates morphogenesis of epithelia or mesenchyme during neoplastic transformation.