Author(s): Bianco R, Gelardi T, Damiano V, Ciardiello F, Tortora G
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Abstract Growth factor receptors and their ligands not only regulate normal cell processes but have been also identified as key regulators of human cancer formation. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/ErbB1/HER1) belongs to the ErbB/HER-family of tyrosine kinase receptors (RTKs). These trans-membrane proteins are activated following binding with peptide growth factors of the EGF-family of proteins. Several evidences suggest that cooperation of multiple ErbB receptors and ligands is required for the induction of cell transformation. In this respect, EGFR, upon activation, sustains a complex and redundant network of signal transduction pathways with the contribution of other trans-membrane receptors. EGFR has been found to be expressed and altered in a variety of malignancies and clearly it plays a significant role in tumor development and progression, including cell proliferation, regulation of apoptotic cell death, angiogenesis and metastatic spread. Moreover, amplification of the EGFR gene and mutations in the EGFR tyrosine kinase domain have been recently reported in human carcinomas. As a result, investigators have developed approaches to inhibit the effects of EGFR activation, with the aim of blocking tumor growth and invasion. A number of agents targeting EGFR, including specific antibodies directed against its ligand-binding domain and small molecules inhibiting its tyrosine kinase activity are either in clinical trials or are already approved for clinical treatment. This article reviews the EGFR role in carcinogenesis and tumor progression as rational bases for the development of specific therapeutic inhibitors.
This article was published in Int J Biochem Cell Biol
and referenced in Translational Medicine