I'm a little confused about the wording of these two phrases and under which context the epithelial-mesenchymal transition occurs.

For example:

Is it the circulating tumor cell that releases the ctDNA so that it undergoes EMT?


ctDNA from the CTC somehow creating new instructions for the EMT phenomenon to occur?

I think there is something I am fundamentally confused about and or I am mixing several or different concepts and phenomenon together and would like to get some clarification on this. Thanks.

EDIT: So this is my new hypothesis / thinking..

So when EMT occurs, CTCs are more likely to develop in the context of cancer, and so when CTCs circulates throughout the blood stream CTCs may be apoptosed of necrosed as a by-product thus leaving ctDNA in the bloodstream and or possibly through out the body.

Is that a correct explanation to my confusion?


1 Answer 1


I'm not sure the relationship you are trying to build between EMT and cancer cells.

Yes some "healthy" cells undergoing EMT could (due to specific underlying mutations) result in cancer cells but such a phenomenon is not a "hard and fast" rule.

The majority of ctDNA would likely be (as you suggest) from lysed cells, however, should mutations occur that allow for the aberrant export of DNA, then the latter could occur (I would assume this is rare but based on the currently available literature this possibility cannot be discounted).

Thus your "new hypothesis" seems to be the most likely.

  • $\begingroup$ Okay thanks for your input! $\endgroup$ Feb 19, 2020 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE! This looks like a good answer, but answers are much more likely to receive a favorable response if you include supporting references (primary literature is best). Without that support, your answer is indistinguishable from opinion. This is a good example of how to format references. ——— You may also want to take the tour and then consult the help pages for additional advice on How to Answer effectively on this site. Thank you! 😊 $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Feb 20, 2020 at 20:44

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