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Genes Cancer. 2011 Aug;2(8):792-804. doi: 10.1177/1947601911431080.

ErbB2 Is Necessary for ErbB4 Ligands to Stimulate Oncogenic Activities in Models of Human Breast Cancer.

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Purdue University College of Pharmacy, West Lafayette, IN, USA.


ErbB4 is a member of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases. This family includes ErbB2 (HER2/Neu), a validated therapeutic target in breast cancer. Several studies indicate that ErbB4 functions as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer, whereas others indicate that ErbB4 functions as an oncogene. Here the authors explore the context in which ErbB4 functions as an oncogene. Silencing expression of either ErbB2 or ErbB4 in breast tumor cell lines results in reduced stimulation of anchorage independence and cell motility by the ErbB4 agonist neuregulin 2β. ErbB2 tyrosine kinase activity, but not ErbB4 tyrosine kinase activity, is required for neuregulin 2β to stimulate cell proliferation. Moreover, sites of ErbB4 tyrosine phosphorylation, but not sites of ErbB2 tyrosine phosphorylation, are required for neuregulin 2β to couple to cell proliferation. These data suggest that targeting ErbB2 expression or tyrosine kinase activity may be effective in treating ErbB4-dependent breast tumors, even those tumors that lack ErbB2 overexpression.


ErbB2; ErbB4; breast cancer; crosstalk; invasiveness; motility

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