A chimeric EGF-R-neu proto-oncogene allows EGF to regulate neu tyrosine kinase and cell transformation

H Lehväslaiho, L Lehtola, L Sistonen, K Alitalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The neu oncogene, characterized by Weinberg and colleagues, is a transforming gene found in ethylnitrosourea-induced rat neuro/glioblastomas; its human proto-oncogene homologue has been termed erbB2 or HER2 because of its close homology with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) gene (c-erbB1). Expression of the rat neu oncogene is sufficient for transformation of mouse NIH 3T3 fibroblasts in culture and for the development of mammary carcinomas in transgenic mice, but the neu proto-oncogene has not been associated with cell transformation. We constructed a vector for expression of a chimeric cDNA and hybrid protein consisting of the EGF-R extracellular, transmembrane and protein kinase C-substrate domains linked to the intracellular tyrosine kinase and carboxyl terminal domain of the rat neu cDNA. Upon transfection with the construct, NIH 3T3 cells gave rise to EGF-R antigen-positive cell clones with varying amounts of specific EGF binding. Immunofluorescence and immunoprecipitation using neu- and EGF-receptor specific antibodies demonstrated a correctly oriented and positioned chimeric EGF-R-neu protein of the expected apparent mol. wt on the surface of these cells. EGF or TGF alpha induced tyrosine phosphorylation of the chimeric receptor protein, stimulated DNA synthesis of EGF-R-neu expressing cells and led to a transformed cell morphology and growth in soft agar. In contrast, the neu proto-oncogene did not show kinase activity or transforming properties when expressed at similar levels in NIH 3T3 cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-66
Number of pages8
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1989
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic/genetics
  • Enzyme Induction/drug effects
  • Epidermal Growth Factor/pharmacology
  • ErbB Receptors/genetics
  • Genes, Synthetic
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases/biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins/biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogenes
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins/biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins/biosynthesis
  • Transforming Growth Factors/pharmacology
  • Tumor Stem Cell Assay


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