Oncogenes pp 143-168 | Cite as

The epidermal growth factor receptor and its ligands

  • Alan Wells
Part of the Cancer Treatment and Research book series (CTAR, volume 47)


Appropriate response to growth and differentiation signals distinguishes normal development from neoplastic processes. A number of systems assure a regulated interaction with the surrounding environment. Polypeptide growth factors and their receptors constitute one such pathway by which cells interpret the external milieu. Acting via specific membrane-spanning moieties, these messengers initiate a cascade of enzymatic activities which lead to replication and/or differentiation. One class of receptors (figure 1) possesses an intrinsic tyrosine-specific kinase—an activity initially found in the viral oncogene v-src. While the nature of the secondary signal was similar in regulated and neoplastic growth, it was postulated that either the specificity or regulation of the signaling was altered. This view of oncogenesis by mutated growth factor receptors was cemented by the discovery of the Avian Erythroblastosis Virus (AEV) v-erbB gene as being a trucated version of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) [1–5]. Thus, the EGFR, a gene which in its normal configuration regulates growth in response to specific signals, can be mutated to induce uncontrolled proliferation.


Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Epidermal Growth Factor A431 Cell Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Gene 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

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  • Alan Wells

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