Specificity within the EGF family/ErbB receptor family signaling network

Bioessays. 1998 Jan;20(1):41-8. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-1878(199801)20:1<41::AID-BIES7>3.0.CO;2-V.


Recent years have witnessed tremendous growth in the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family of peptide growth factors and the ErbB family of tyrosine kinases, the receptors for these factors. Accompanying this growth has been an increased appreciation for the roles these molecules play in tumorigenesis and in regulating cell proliferation and differentiation during development. Consequently, a significant question has been how diverse biological responses are specified by these hormones and receptors. Here we discuss several characteristics of hormone-receptor interactions and receptor coupling that contribute to specificity: 1) a single EGF family hormone can bind multiple receptors; 2) a single ErbB family receptor can bind multiple hormones; 3) there are three distinct functional groups of EGF family hormones; 4) EGF family hormones can activate receptors in trans, and this heterodimerization diversifies biological responses; 5) ErbB3 requires a receptor partner for signaling; and 6) ErbB family receptors differentially couple to signaling pathways and biological responses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oncogene Proteins v-erbB / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Oncogene Proteins v-erbB
  • Epidermal Growth Factor