The epidermal growth factor receptor has received much interest as a target for various antineoplastic agents, but a complication is that many normal tissues also express this receptor. We have previously identified in human glial tumors an 801-bp in-frame deletion within the epidermal growth factor receptor gene that created a novel epitope at the junction. By using Western blot assays with a mutant-specific antibody as a rapid and sensitive means for detecting this alteration in primary human tumors, it was found that 57% (26 of 46) of high-grade and 86% (6 of 7) of low-grade glial tumors, but not normal brain, express this protein. This altered receptor was also present in 66% (4 of 6) of pediatric gliomas and 86% (6 of 7) of medulloblastomas, 78% (21 of 27) of breast carcinomas, and 73% (24 of 32) of ovarian carcinomas. The fact that this receptor is frequently found in tumors but not in normal tissue makes it an attractive candidate for various antitumor strategies.
This work was supported by CA-51093, NS-31102, and the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities Foundation.