Skip to main content

Co-occurring gain-of-function mutations in HER2 and HER3 modulate HER2/HER3 activation, oncogenesis, and HER2 inhibitor sensitivity


Hanker AB , Brown BP , Meiler J , Marín A , Jayanthan HS , Ye D , Lin CC , Akamatsu H , Lee KM , Chatterjee S , Sudhan DR , Servetto A , Brewer MR , Koch JP , Sheehan JH , He J , Lalani AS , Arteaga CL , . Cancer cell. 2021 06 22; ().


Activating mutations in HER2 (ERBB2) drive the growth of a subset of breast and other cancers and tend to co-occur with HER3 (ERBB3) missense mutations. The HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor neratinib has shown clinical activity against HER2-mutant tumors. To characterize the role of HER3 mutations in HER2-mutant tumors, we integrate computational structural modeling with biochemical and cell biological analyses. Computational modeling predicts that the frequent HER3 kinase domain mutation enhances the affinity of HER2/HER3 and reduces binding of HER2 to its inhibitor neratinib. Co-expression of mutant HER2/HER3 enhances HER2/HER3 co-immunoprecipitation and ligand-independent activation of HER2/HER3 and PI3K/AKT, resulting in enhanced growth, invasiveness, and resistance to HER2-targeted therapies, which can be reversed by combined treatment with PI3Kα inhibitors. Our results provide a mechanistic rationale for the evolutionary selection of co-occurring HER2/HER3 mutations and the recent clinical observations that HER3 mutations are associated with a poor response to neratinib in HER2-mutant cancers.