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Biochem Soc Trans. 2004 Nov;32(Pt 5):742-5.

Active and inactive conformations of the epidermal growth factor receptor.

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Department of Physiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, D505 Richards Building, 3700 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6085, USA.


The members of the EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) family of RTKs (receptor tyrosine kinases), also known as the ErbB or HER family, have been implicated in many human cancers. Structural studies of the EGFR extracellular region (sEGFR) have led to the proposal of a novel mechanism for ligand-induced receptor dimerization. In this model EGF binding induces a dramatic conformational change in EGFR, exposing a dimerization site that is normally occluded in the inactivated conformation, and thus promoting the formation of an entirely receptor-mediated dimer. It is well established that antibodies against the extracellular region of EGFR that prevent ligand binding and/or receptor signalling can inhibit tumour growth in vivo. At least five such anti-EGFR antibodies are currently in clinical trials and one, C225/cetuximab (Erbitux), was recently approved in the U.S. and Europe for use in advanced colorectal cancers. Recent structural studies of ErbB2 in complex with anti-ErbB2 antibodies (trastuzumab/Herceptin and pertuzumab/Omnitarg) have provided significant insights into how these drugs function. There have been no such studies for similar EGFR-targeted drugs to date. The implications of this model for the possible mechanisms of antibody-mediated inhibition of EGFR are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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