BACKGROUND ErbB2 (also called HER2, Neu, and CD340) is a member of the ErbB protein family, more commonly known as the epidermal growth factor receptor family. It is a cell membrane surface-bound receptor tyrosine kinase and is normally involved in the signal transduction pathways leading to cell growth and differentiation. HER2 is thought to be an orphan receptor, with none of the EGF family of ligands able to activate it. However, ErbB receptors dimerise on ligand binding, and ErbB2 is the preferential dimerisation partner of other members of the ErbB family.1,2 ErbB2 is notable for its role in the pathogenesis of breast cancer and as a target of treatment. Approximately 15-20 percent of breast cancers have an amplification of the ErbB2 gene or overexpression of its protein product. It is important as the target of the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (marketed as Herceptin). Trastuzumab is only effective in breast cancer where the ErbB2 receptor is overexpressed.3
1. Revillion, F. et al: Eur. J. Cancer 34 :791, 1998
2. Hynes, N. E & Lane, H. A.: Nat Rev Cancer. 5:341, 2005
3. Olayioye, M. A. : Breast Cancer Res 3:385, 2001
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