Growth stimulation of non-small cell lung cancer cell lines by antibody against epidermal growth factor receptor promoting formation of ErbB2/ErbB3 heterodimers

Mol Cancer Res. 2007 Apr;5(4):393-401. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-06-0303.


Antibodies are the most rapidly expanding class of human therapeutics, including their use in cancer therapy. Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) against epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) generated for cancer therapy block the binding of ligand to various EGFR-expressing human cancer cell lines and abolish ligand-dependent cell proliferation. In this study, we show that our mAb against EGFRs, designated as B4G7, exhibited a growth-stimulatory effect on various human cancer cell lines including PC-14, a non-small cell lung cancer cell line; although EGF exerted no growth-stimulatory activity toward these cell lines. Tyrosine phosphorylation of EGFRs occurred after treatment of PC-14 cells with B4G7 mAb, and it was completely inhibited by AG1478, a specific inhibitor of EGFR tyrosine kinase. However, this inhibitor did not affect the B4G7-stimulated cell growth, indicating that the growth stimulation by B4G7 mAb seems to be independent of the activation of EGFR tyrosine kinase. Immunoprecipitation with anti-ErbB3 antibody revealed that B4G7, but not EGF, stimulated heterodimerization between ErbB2 and ErbB3. ErbB3 was tyrosine phosphorylated in the presence of B4G7 but not in the presence of EGF. Further, the phosphorylation and B4G7-induced increase in cell growth were inhibited by AG825, a specific inhibitor of ErbB2. These results show that the ErbB2/ErbB3 dimer functions to promote cell growth in B4G7-treated cells. Changes in receptor-receptor interactions between ErbB family members after inhibition of one of its members are of potential importance in optimizing current EGFR family-directed therapies for cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / immunology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Dimerization
  • Enzyme Activation
  • ErbB Receptors / immunology*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, ErbB-3 / metabolism*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptor, ErbB-3
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3