erbB-2 is a potent oncogene when overexpressed in NIH/3T3 cells

Science. 1987 Jul 10;237(4811):178-82. doi: 10.1126/science.2885917.


A wide variety of human tumors contain an amplified or overexpressed erbB-2 gene, which encodes a growth factor receptor-like protein. When erbB-2 complementary DNA was expressed in NIH/3T3 cells under the control of the SV40 promoter, the gene lacked transforming activity despite expression of detectable levels of the erbB-2 protein. A further five- to tenfold increase in its expression under influence of the long terminal repeat of Moloney murine leukemia virus was associated with activation of erbB-2 as a potent oncogene. The high levels of the erbB-2 product associated with malignant transformation of NIH/3T3 cells were observed in human mammary tumor cells that overexpressed this gene. These findings demonstrate a new mechanism for acquisition of oncogenic properties by genes encoding growth factor receptor-like proteins and provide a functional basis for the role of their overexpression in the development of human malignancies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic* / genetics
  • DNA / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Viral
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Moloney murine leukemia virus / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / physiology
  • Simian virus 40 / genetics
  • Tumor Stem Cell Assay


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • DNA
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2