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Br J Cancer. 1991 Feb;63(2):227-33.

Expression of growth factor receptors in human brain tumours.

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ICRF Oncology Group, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.


The expression of the EGF receptor, c-erbB-2 and PDGF receptor proteins has been studied in a series of human brain tumour biopsies and cell lines. Western blotting was used to determine the amount of protein present and their intrinsic and ligand promoted enzyme activities were studied by immunoprecipitation followed by autophosphorylation. EGF receptors were found to be expressed at very high levels in 40% of primary tumour biopsies, but at uniformly low levels in tumour derived cell lines. The c-erbB-2 protein was not detected in tumour biopsies, but was present at variable, but low levels in extracts of tumour cell lines. PDGF receptors were also found at moderate to low levels in both primary tumours and cell lines. The EGF receptor gene was amplified in four out of 14 primary tumours and this generally correlated with high levels of protein expression. The c-erbB-2 gene was not amplified. Employing the polymerase chain reaction and sequence specific oligonucleotides as probes there was no evidence of mutations in the c-erbB-2 gene transmembrane region. These results suggest that alterations of expression of the EGF receptor may play a role in human brain tumours. There was however no evidence for aberrant expression of the c-erbB-2 protein. Additional experiments are required to assess the influence of PDGF receptor expression in brain tumour cells.

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