Elevated expression of activated forms of Neu/ErbB-2 and ErbB-3 are involved in the induction of mammary tumors in transgenic mice: Implications for human breast cancer

Peter M. Siegel, Eamonn D. Ryan, Robert Cardiff, William J. Muller

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327 Scopus citations


To assess the importance of Neu activation during mammary tumorigenesis, altered receptors harboring in-frame deletions within the extracellular domain were expressed in transgenic mice. Females from several independent lines develop multiple mammary tumors that frequently metastasize to the lung. Tumor progression in these strains was associated with elevated levels of tyrosine-phosphorylated Neu and ErbB-3. Consistent with these observations, a survey of primary human breast tumors revealed frequent co-expression of both erbB-2 and erbB-3 transcripts. The ability of altered Neu receptors to induce mammary tumorigenesis in transgenic mice prompted us to examine whether similar mutations occurred in ErbB-2 during human breast cancer progression. Interestingly, an alternatively spliced form of erbB-2, closely resembling spontaneous activated forms of neu, was detected in human breast tumors. The ErbB-2 receptor encoded by this novel transcript harbors an in-frame deletion of 16 amino acids in the extracellular domain and can transform Rat-1 fibroblasts. Together, these observations argue that co-expression of ErbB-2 and ErbB-3 may play a critical role in the induction of human breast tumors, and raise the possibility that activating mutations in the ErbB-2 receptor may also contribute to this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2149-2164
Number of pages16
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 1999



  • Activating mutations
  • ErbB receptors
  • Mammary tumorigenesis
  • Transgenic mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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