ErbB receptors and epithelial-cadherin-catenin complex in human carcinomas

Future Oncol. 2006 Dec;2(6):765-81. doi: 10.2217/14796694.2.6.765.


The ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases have important roles in maintaining normal epithelial cell function. The ErbBs are involved in the interaction between cells and cell-matrix adhesion molecules and have proven critical in maintaining the integrity of the epithelial cell environment. Deregulation of these tyrosine receptors has been associated with several human diseases. In particular, the expression or activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and ErbB2 is altered in many epithelial tumors. Epithelial (E)-cadherin is another major molecule expressed by epithelial cells. To create efficient cell-cell adhesion, E-cadherin couples its cytoplasmic domain to catenins and the actin cytoskeleton. The loss of intercellular adhesion appears to be a fundamental aspect of the neoplastic phenomena. In addition, EGFR and ErbB2 signaling associated with the E-cadherin-catenin complex has been demonstrated in normal and cancer cells. This signaling is involved in regulating cell adhesion and the invasive growth of cancers. This article provides an overview of the interaction between the ErbB tyrosine receptors and the E-cadherin-catenin complex in human carcinomas.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma / metabolism
  • Carcinoma / physiopathology*
  • Catenins / metabolism*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, ErbB-3 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, ErbB-4
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cadherins
  • Catenins
  • ERBB4 protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptor, ErbB-3
  • Receptor, ErbB-4