The role of c-erbB-2/HER2/neu in breast cancer progression and metastasis

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2001 Oct;6(4):393-406. doi: 10.1023/a:1014730829872.


Gene amplification and/or overexpression of the c-erbB-2/HER2/neu tyrosine kinase are linked with poor prognosis in breast cancer. This is manifest in shorter disease-free intervals, increased risk of metastasis, and resistance to many types of therapy. The molecular mechanisms and signaling circuitry underlying these phenomena are now being elucidated. c-erbB-2, although having no known soluble ligand, is transactivated by heterodimerization with other family members (EGFR, c-erbB-3, c-erbB-4). Receptor activation potentiates tumor cell motility, protease secretion and invasion, and also modulates cell cycle checkpoint function, DNA repair, and apoptotic responses. Since it is expressed at low levels in normal adult tissues, c-erbB-2 is an ideal target for therapy. There is reason for optimism that agents targeting c-erbB-2 signaling will have profound and selective effects in breast cancer, either as single agents or more likely in combination with other therapeutic agents, to enhance their potency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / physiology*


  • Receptor, ErbB-2