Testing for the presence of specific cell-surface receptors (such as EGFR or HER2) on tumor cells is an integral part of cancer care in terms of treatment decisions and prognosis. Understanding the strengths and limitations of these tests is important because inaccurate results may occur if procedures designed to prevent false-negative or false-positive outcomes are not employed. This review discusses tests commonly used to identify and characterize cell-surface receptors, such as the erythropoietin receptor (EpoR). First, a summary is provided on the biology of the Epo/EpoR system, describing how EpoR is expressed on erythrocytic progenitors and precursors in the bone marrow where it mediates red blood cell production in response to Epo. Second, studies are described that investigated whether erythropoiesis-stimulating agents could stimulate tumor progression in cancer patients and whether EpoR is expressed and functional on tumor cells or on endothelial cells. The methods used in these studies included immunohistochemistry, Northern blotting, Western blotting, and binding assays. This review summarizes the strengths and limitations of these methods. Critically analyzing data from tests for cell-surface receptors such as EpoR requires understanding the techniques utilized and demonstrating that results are consistent with current knowledge about receptor biology.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)