Members of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/ErbB) family play a critical role in normal cell growth and development. However, many ErbB family members, especially EGFR, are aberrantly expressed or deregulated in tumors and are thought to play crucial roles in cancer development and metastatic progression. In this chapter, we provide an overview of key mechanisms contributing to aberrant EGFR/ErbB signaling in transformed cells, which results in many phenotypic changes associated with the earliest stages of tumor formation, including several hallmarks of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). These changes often occur through interaction with other major signaling pathways important to tumor progression, causing a multitude of transcriptional changes that ultimately impact cell morphology, proliferation, and adhesion, all of which are crucial for tumor progression. The resulting mesh of signaling networks will need to be taken into account as new regimens are designed for targeting EGFR for therapeutic intervention. As new insights are gained into the molecular mechanisms of cross talk between EGFR signaling and other signaling pathways, including their roles in therapeutic resistance to anti-EGFR therapies, a continual reassessment of clinical therapeutic regimes and strategies will be required. Understanding the consequences and complexity of EGF signaling and how it relates to tumor progression is critical for the development of clinical compounds and establishing clinical protocols for the treatment of cancer.
Keywords: Cancer; Carcinogenesis; Cell transformation; Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT).
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