Convergent and divergent cellular responses by ErbB4 isoforms in mammary epithelial cells

Mol Cancer Res. 2014 Aug;12(8):1140-55. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-13-0637. Epub 2014 May 14.


Associations of ErbB4 (ERBB4/HER4), the fourth member of the EGFR family, with cancer are variable, possibly as a result of structural diversity of this receptor. There are multiple structural isoforms of ERBB4 arising by alternative mRNA splicing, and a subset undergo proteolysis that releases membrane-anchored and soluble isoforms that associate with transcription factors and coregulators to modulate transcription. To compare the differential and common signaling activities of full-length (FL) and soluble intracellular isoforms of ERBB4, four JM-a isoforms (FL and soluble intracellular domain (ICD) CYT-1 and CYT-2) were expressed in isogenic MCF10A cells and their biologic activities were analyzed. Both FL and ICD CYT-2 promoted cell proliferation and invasion, and CYT-1 suppressed cell growth. Transcriptional profiling revealed several new and underexplored ERBB4-regulated transcripts, including: proteases/protease inhibitors (MMP3 and SERPINE2), the YAP/Hippo pathway (CTGF, CYR61, and SPARC), the mevalonate/cholesterol pathway (HMGCR, HMGCS1, LDLR, and DHCR7), and cytokines (IL8, CCL20, and CXCL1). Many of these transcripts were subsequently validated in a luminal breast cancer cell line that normally expresses ERBB4. Furthermore, ChIP-seq experiments identified ADAP1, APOE, SPARC, STMN1, and MXD1 as novel molecular targets of ERBB4. These findings clarify the diverse biologic activities of ERBB4 isoforms, and reveal new and divergent functions.

Implications: ErbB4 as a regulator of Hippo and mevalonate pathways provides new insight into milk production and anabolic processes in normal mammary epithelia and cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human / metabolism*
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism*
  • Receptor, ErbB-4 / genetics
  • Receptor, ErbB-4 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Transcription Factors
  • ERBB4 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-4