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Mol Biol Cell. 2002 Nov;13(11):4029-44.

Differential regulation of tumor angiogenesis by distinct ErbB homo- and heterodimers.

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Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Sir Mortimer B Davis Jewish General Hospital, Department of Medicine and McGill Centre for Translational Research in Cancer, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, H3T 1E2, Canada.


Interactions between cancer cells and their microenvironment are critical for the development and progression of solid tumors. This study is the first to examine the role of all members of the ErbB tyrosine kinase receptors (epidermal growth factor receptor [EGFR], ErbB-2, ErbB-3, or ErbB-4), expressed singly or as paired receptor combinations, in the regulation of angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. Comparison of all receptor combinations reveals that EGFR/ErbB-2 and ErbB-2/ErbB-3 heterodimers are the most potent inducers of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA expression compared with EGFR/ErbB-3, EGFR/ErbB-4, ErbB-2/ErbB-4, and ErbB-3/ErbB-4. Immunohistochemistry of tumor xenografts overexpressing these heterodimers shows increased VEGF expression and remarkably enhanced vascularity. Enhanced VEGF expression is associated with increased VEGF transcription. Deletional analysis reveals that ErbB-mediated transcriptional up-regulation of VEGF involves a hypoxia-inducible factor 1-independent responsive region located between nucleotides -88 to -66 of the VEGF promoter. Mutational analysis reveals that the Sp-1 and AP-2 transcription factor binding elements within this region are required for up-regulation of VEGF by heregulin beta1 and that this up-regulation is dependent on the activity of extracellular signal-related protein kinases. These results emphasize the biological implications of cell signaling diversity among members of the ErbB receptor family in regulation of the tumor microenvironment.

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