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Sci. Signal., 30 June 2009
Vol. 2, Issue 77, p. ra31
[DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2000352]


Therapeutically Targeting ErbB3: A Key Node in Ligand-Induced Activation of the ErbB Receptor–PI3K Axis

Birgit Schoeberl*, Emily A. Pace*, Jonathan B. Fitzgerald*, Brian D. Harms, Lihui Xu, Lin Nie, Bryan Linggi, Ashish Kalra, Violette Paragas, Raghida Bukhalid, Viara Grantcharova, Neeraj Kohli, Kip A. West, Magdalena Leszczyniecka, Michael J. Feldhaus, Arthur J. Kudla, and Ulrik B. Nielsen{dagger}

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, One Kendall Square, Building 700, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract: The signaling network downstream of the ErbB family of receptors has been extensively targeted by cancer therapeutics; however, understanding the relative importance of the different components of the ErbB network is nontrivial. To explore the optimal way to therapeutically inhibit combinatorial, ligand-induced activation of the ErbB–phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) axis, we built a computational model of the ErbB signaling network that describes the most effective ErbB ligands, as well as known and previously unidentified ErbB inhibitors. Sensitivity analysis identified ErbB3 as the key node in response to ligands that can bind either ErbB3 or EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor). We describe MM-121, a human monoclonal antibody that halts the growth of tumor xenografts in mice and, consistent with model-simulated inhibitor data, potently inhibits ErbB3 phosphorylation in a manner distinct from that of other ErbB-targeted therapies. MM-121, a previously unidentified anticancer therapeutic designed using a systems approach, promises to benefit patients with combinatorial, ligand-induced activation of the ErbB signaling network that are not effectively treated by current therapies targeting overexpressed or mutated oncogenes.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: unielsen{at}

Citation: B. Schoeberl, E. A. Pace, J. B. Fitzgerald, B. D. Harms, L. Xu, L. Nie, B. Linggi, A. Kalra, V. Paragas, R. Bukhalid, V. Grantcharova, N. Kohli, K. A. West, M. Leszczyniecka, M. J. Feldhaus, A. J. Kudla, U. B. Nielsen, Therapeutically Targeting ErbB3: A Key Node in Ligand-Induced Activation of the ErbB Receptor–PI3K Axis. Sci. Signal. 2, ra31 (2009).

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