Comparative oncology: ErbB-1 and ErbB-2 homologues in canine cancer are susceptible to cetuximab and trastuzumab targeting

Josef Singer, Marlene Weichselbaumer, Thomas Stockner, Diana Mechtcheriakova, Yury Sobanov, Erika Bajna, Friedrich Wrba, Reinhard Horvat, Johann G. Thalhammer, Michael Willmann, Erika Jensen-Jarolim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

82 Citations (Scopus)


To facilitate comparative oncology trials we compared the biological and molecular homologies of canine (dog; Canis lupus familiaris) and human tumor-associated antigens ErbB-1 and -2. Further, we investigated whether they could serve as targets for anti-ErbB-1 (cetuximab) and anti-ErbB-2 antibodies (trastuzumab), which are highly relevant in human clinical oncology.Immunohistochemistry of canine mammary cancer showed ErbB-1 overexpression in 3/10 patients and ErbB-2 in 4/10. We report 91% amino acid homology for ErbB-1 and 92% for ErbB-2 between canine and human molecules. Modeling of canine on human ErbB-1 revealed that the cetuximab epitope only differs by 4 amino acids: Lys443 is replaced by Arg, Ser468 by Asn, Gly471 by Asp, and Asn473 by Lys in canines. The trastuzumab binding site is identical in human and canine ErbB-2 apart from a single amino acid change (Pro557 to Ser). Binding of cetuximab and trastuzumab to canine mammary carcinoma cells CF33, CF41, Sh1b and P114 was confirmed by flow cytometry. Both antibodies significantly inhibited canine tumor cell proliferation partly due to growth arrest in G 0/G 1 phase. We explain the lower efficiency on the tested canine than on human SKBR3 and A431 cells, by a 2-log lower expression level of the canine ErbB-1 and -2 molecules.Our results indicate significant homology of human and canine Erb-1 and -2 tumor associated antigens. The fact that the canine homologues express the cetuximab and trastuzumab epitopes may facilitate antibody-based immunotherapy in dogs. Importantly, the striking similarities of ErbB-1 and -2 molecules open up avenues towards comparative strategies for targeted drug development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-209
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Canine
  • Comparative oncology
  • ErbB-1
  • ErbB-2
  • Human

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology


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