The Journal of investigative dermatology

ERBB2 Is Essential for the Growth of Chemically Induced Skin Tumors in Mice.

PMID 27931797


Although the epidermal growth factor receptor has established roles in skin carcinogenesis, inflammation, and wound healing, the functions of the structurally related receptor ERBB2 in this tissue remain poorly explored. To assess the functions of ERBB2 in skin homeostasis, tumorigenesis, and wound healing, we employed keratin 5-directed, cre recombinase-mediated targeting of Erbb2 alleles in mice. Erbb2(del) mice, lacking ERBB2 specifically in keratinocytes, showed no noticeable spontaneous skin abnormalities. During early wound healing, the thickness and the number and proliferation rate of keratinocytes in the wound epithelium of Erbb2(del) mice were significantly reduced. Compared with control littermates, Erbb2(del) mice remained free of papillomas for a longer time and had significantly reduced tumor burden after application of the 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene/12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate multistage chemical carcinogenesis protocol. Furthermore, tumor cell proliferation was substantially reduced in Erbb2(del) mice, and loss of ERBB2 also decreased keratinocyte proliferation after 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate application. Thus, ERBB2 is dispensable for the development and homeostasis of the epidermis and its appendages. However, reflecting its pro-proliferative role, ERBB2 is required for the normal healing of skin wounds and for the progression of tumors during skin chemical carcinogenesis in mice. Thus, ERBB2 may be a promising target for inhibiting human nonmelanoma skin cancer progression.