The oncogene HER2: its signaling and transforming functions and its role in human cancer pathogenesis

Oncogene. 2007 Oct 4;26(45):6469-87. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1210477. Epub 2007 Apr 30.


The year 2007 marks exactly two decades since Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor-2 (HER2) was functionally implicated in the pathogenesis of human breast cancer. This finding established the HER2 oncogene hypothesis for the development of some human cancers. The subsequent two decades have brought about an explosion of information about the biology of HER2 and the HER family. An abundance of experimental evidence now solidly supports the HER2 oncogene hypothesis and etiologically links amplification of the HER2 gene locus with human cancer pathogenesis. The molecular mechanisms underlying HER2 tumorigenesis appear to be complex and a unified mechanistic model of HER2-induced transformation has not emerged. Numerous hypotheses implicating diverse transforming pathways have been proposed and are individually supported by experimental models and HER2 may indeed induce cell transformation through multiple mechanisms. Here I review the evidence supporting the oncogenic function of HER2, the mechanisms that are felt to mediate its oncogenic functions, and the evidence that links the experimental evidence with human cancer pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genes, erbB-2 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / physiology
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Receptor, ErbB-2