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J Pathol. 1998 Jul;185(3):236-45.

Expression of the c-erbB-4/HER4 protein and mRNA in normal human fetal and adult tissues and in a survey of nine solid tumour types.

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Receptor Biology Laboratory, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, London, U.K.


The c-erbB-4/HER4 receptor belongs to the family of the type I growth factor receptors. Mouse monoclonal antibodies have been raised to the cytoplasmic domain of the c-erbB-4 receptor and characterized; the antibody HFR-1 has been used to determine the pattern of expression of the c-erbB-4 protein immunohistochemically in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded adult and fetal tissues. The expression of c-erbB-4 mRNA was determined by using 35S-labelled riboprobes and tissue in situ hybridization. c-erbB-4 is widely expressed in many adult and fetal tissues, including the lining epithelia of the gastrointestinal, urinary, reproductive, and respiratory tracts, as well as the skin, skeletal muscle, circulatory, endocrine, and nervous systems. The developing brain and heart notably express high levels of this receptor. The pattern of c-erbB-4 protein expression is also reported in a survey of common solid human cancers. Loss of expression was noted in 40-80 per cent of adenocarcinomas and up to 100 per cent of squamous cell carcinomas, whereas overexpression was observed in about 10-20 per cent of adenocarcinomas and astrocytomas. In general, the pattern of c-erbB-4 expression in normal tissues and cancers suggests that it tends to be associated with the differentiated compartment.

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