Abstract

ERBB4, one member of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family, plays a key role in physiological and pathological processes. Recently, we identified that ERBB4 played a protective role from chronic hepatitis B virus infection. However, the role of ERBB4 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is still unclear. Here, we explore the role of ERBB4 in the development of HCC using in vitro models, in vivo animal models and clinical samples of HCC. Liver-specific ERBB4 knockout alleles and full ERBB4 except heart knockout mice were used in this study. Liver inflammation and tumor models of mice were produced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) and diethylnitrosamine (DEN) administration, respectively. Commercial tissue arrays of 90 HCC patients with paired counterparts were used to evaluate the expression and the prognostic value of ERBB4. Genes altered in the setting of ERBB4 loss was studied by microarray analysis and further validated by real-time PCR. We have found that depletion of ERBB4 in mice leads to more severe injury and liver tumor formation and loss of ERBB4 contributes to the development of hepatocellular tumor. In clinic samples of HCC, ERBB4 is down-regulated and exhibit prognostic value of HCC patients. Mechanistically, loss of ERBB4 suppressed p53 expression by inhibiting the expression of the tumor suppressor tp53inp1. Our study uncovers ERBB4 as a suppressor in the development of HCC and implies an ERBB4-TP53INP1-P53 axis in HCC.

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