Cell migration is a multifactorial/multistep process that requires the concerted action of growth and transcriptional factors, motor proteins, extracellular matrix remodeling and proteases. In this review, we focus on the role of transcription factors modulating Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT-TFs), a fundamental process supporting both physiological and pathological cell migration. These EMT-TFs (Snail1/2, Twist1/2 and Zeb1/2) are labile proteins which should be stabilized to initiate EMT and provide full migratory and invasive properties. We present here a family of enzymes, the deubiquitinases (DUBs) which have a crucial role in counteracting polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of EMT-TFs after their induction by TGFβ, inflammatory cytokines and hypoxia. We also describe the DUBs promoting the stabilization of Smads, TGFβ receptors and other key proteins involved in transduction pathways controlling EMT.

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