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The discovery of receptor tyrosine kinases: targets for cancer therapy


Receptor tyrosine kinases are a subclass of cell-surface growth-factor receptors with an intrinsic, ligand-controlled tyrosine-kinase activity. They regulate diverse functions in normal cells and have a crucial role in oncogenesis. Twenty years ago, the first primary structure of a receptor tyrosine kinase, the epidermal growth factor receptor, was elucidated. The characterization of both the molecular architecture of receptor tyrosine kinases and the main functions of these proteins and their ligands in tumorigenesis opened the door to a new era in molecular oncology and paved the way to the development of the first target-specific cancer therapeutics.

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Figure 1: The epidermal growth factor receptor signalling network.
Figure 2: Receptor tyrosine kinases: sites of therapeutic intervention.


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Correction: The DOI number given for this article in the May 2004 print issue of Nature Reviews Cancer was wrong. The correct DOI number is: doi:10.1038/nrc1360.

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Correspondence to Axel Ullrich.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Gschwind, A., Fischer, O. & Ullrich, A. The discovery of receptor tyrosine kinases: targets for cancer therapy. Nat Rev Cancer 4, 361–370 (2004).

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