Inhibition of heregulin signaling by an aptamer that preferentially binds to the oligomeric form of human epidermal growth factor receptor-3

Chi Hong B. Chen, George A. Chernis, Van Q. Hoang, Ralf Landgraf

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154 Scopus citations


Human epidermal growth factor receptor-3 (HER3) is a member of the type I receptor tyrosine kinase family. Several members of this family are overexpressed in various carcinomas. Specifically, HER2 is found to be overexpressed in 20-30% of breast cancers. In contrast to epidermal growth factor receptor or HER2, the kinase-deficient HER3 self-associates readily at low nanomolar concentrations and in the absence of its ligands, various isoforms of heregulin (hrg). Binding of hrg disrupts HER3 oligomerization and leads to the formation of signaling-competent heterodimers, preferentially with HER2. Elevated levels of HER3 contribute to increased drug resistance observed in HER2-overexpressing cells. We have used the SELEX (systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment) methodology to select RNA aptamers against the oligomeric state of the extracellular domains of HER3 (HER3ECD, monomeric molecular mass 82,000 Da). One of the aptamers, A30, binds with high affinity to a limited number of binding sites in the oligomeric state of HER3ECD. Binding of A30 and hrg are not competitive. Instead, the disruption of HER3 oligomers by hrg results in an ≈10-fold increase in total binding sites, but the newly created binding sites are of lower affinity. High-affinity binding of A30 inhibits hrg-dependent tyrosine phosphorylation of HER2 and the hrg-induced growth response of MCF7 cells. As an example of an aptamer against a large macromolecular protein complex, A30 can serve as a tool for the analysis of receptor interactions and may serve as a lead compound for the development of inhibitors against overexpressed receptor tyrosine kinases in carcinomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9226-9231
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 5 2003
Externally publishedYes

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