EGF-receptor signaling and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in human carcinomas

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2012 Jan 1;4(2):671-84. doi: 10.2741/s292.


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) signaling pathway maintains a balance between cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis, and thus it is believed that EGF-R signaling pathways play an important role in the development and progression of several human carcinomas. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) describes the dedifferentiation switch between polarized epithelial cancer cells and contractile and motile mesenchymal (invasive) cells during cancer progression and metastasis. Activation of EGF-R signaling regulates EMT-associated invasion and migration in normal and malignant epithelial cells. In contrast, blocking EGF-R and consequently its pathways, by a monoclonal antibody (mAb) or a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), inhibit cellular migration and invasion, suggesting an essential role for EGF-R inhibitors in the control of cancer metastasis. The purpose of this review is to summarize current information regarding the role of EGF-R signaling on EMT during human cancer progression and metastasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / drug effects
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / physiology*
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors

Grant support