CD74-NRG1 Fusions Are Oncogenic In Vivo and Induce Therapeutically Tractable ERBB2:ERBB3 Heterodimerization

Mol Cancer Ther. 2022 May 4;21(5):821-830. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-21-0820.


NRG1 fusions are recurrent somatic genome alterations occurring across several tumor types, including invasive mucinous lung adenocarcinomas and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas and are potentially actionable genetic alterations in these cancers. We initially discovered CD74-NRG1 as the first NRG1 fusion in lung adenocarcinomas, and many additional fusion partners have since been identified. Here, we present the first CD74-NRG1 transgenic mouse model and provide evidence that ubiquitous expression of the CD74-NRG1 fusion protein in vivo leads to tumor development at high frequency. Furthermore, we show that ERBB2:ERBB3 heterodimerization is a mechanistic event in transformation by CD74-NRG1 binding physically to ERBB3 and that CD74-NRG1-expressing cells proliferate independent of supplemented NRG1 ligand. Thus, NRG1 gene fusions are recurrent driver oncogenes that cause oncogene dependency. Consistent with these findings, patients with NRG1 fusion-positive cancers respond to therapy targeting the ERBB2:ERBB3 receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung*
  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Mice
  • Neuregulin-1 / genetics
  • Oncogenes
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / genetics
  • Receptor, ErbB-3 / genetics


  • NRG1 protein, human
  • Neuregulin-1
  • Nrg1 protein, mouse
  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • ERBB3 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptor, ErbB-3