The role of EGF-related peptides in tumor growth

Front Biosci. 2001 May 1;6:D685-707. doi: 10.2741/normano.


The epidermal growth factor (EGF) family of peptides encodes several proteins that can function as growth factors. The EGF-like peptides, with the exception of proteins of the EGF-CFC subfamily, bind and activate tyrosine kinase receptors that belong to the erbB family. The EGF-like peptides are overexpressed in a majority of human carcinomas as compared with their nontransformed counterpart. By using different approaches, it has been shown that several different EGF-like peptides function as autocrine growth factors in carcinoma cell lines of different histological origin. Direct evidence that the EGF-like growth factors might function as transforming genes has been provided by in vitro and in vivo studies. In particular, the development of different transgenic mouse lines in which EGF-like growth factors have been overexpressed by means of tissue-specific or nonspecific promoters has provided invaluable information relating to their ability to function as dominantly transforming oncogenes. Cooperation of the EGF-like peptides with cellular protooncogenes in determining cell transformation has been demonstrated by using both in vitro and transgenic mice systems. Taken together, these data strongly suggest that the EGF-like peptides are involved in the pathogenesis of human carcinomas, and that they might represent suitable targets for novel therapeutic approaches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphiregulin
  • Animals
  • Betacellulin
  • EGF Family of Proteins
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Epiregulin
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Growth Substances / physiology
  • Heparin-binding EGF-like Growth Factor
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neuregulins / physiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / physiology


  • AREG protein, human
  • Amphiregulin
  • Areg protein, mouse
  • BTC protein, human
  • Betacellulin
  • Btc protein, mouse
  • EGF Family of Proteins
  • EREG protein, human
  • Epiregulin
  • Ereg protein, mouse
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Growth Substances
  • HBEGF protein, human
  • Hbegf protein, mouse
  • Heparin-binding EGF-like Growth Factor
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Neuregulins
  • TDGF1 protein, human
  • TMEFF2 protein, human
  • Tdgf1 protein, mouse
  • Tmeff1 protein, mouse
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha
  • Epidermal Growth Factor