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Juan Carlos Montero

ErbB receptors and their ligands. Signalling by Erk5 in cancer

Beca Ayuda María García-Estrada
(AECC – España)

The Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (Spanish Association Against Cancer) has awarded a two-year Research Grant supporting the work of a researcher in oncology through their Scientific Foundation. The recipient is Juan Carlos Montero González, doctor in Biochemistry and Special Achievement Award winner in 2004 by the University of Salamanca. He is author of a total of 11 publications, some of them of particular importance within the proposed field of research.

Dr. Montero will carry out a sarcoma-related project named “ErbB receptors and their ligands. Signalling by Erk5 in cancer” in the Centro de Investigación del Cáncer de Salamanca, CIC (Centre for Cancer Research of Salamanca)– IBMCC, CSIC. The CIC is a state-of-the-art research centre located within the campus of the University of Salamanca, near the city Clinical Hospital, institution with which it maintains close collaboration.

The aim of this project is to research the role of ligands (a type of protein) in their relationship to cancerous tumours. These proteins have a role in the activation of ErbB receptors, another type of protein located in the cell membrane, which controls the correct division of the cells. The project will research how ligands such as the neuroregulins (the actual research object of this project) can have an effect on cell division (and thus in the proliferation of cancerous cells) by means of their interaction with the ErbB receptors.

The funding for this grant comes entirely from the María García Estrada Foundation thanks to the 66,000€ raised at the first two María García Estrada Memorials that took place in the Real Club de Golf de Tenerife (Tenerife Royal Golf Club), site where María began her career as a golfer.


Juan Carlos Montero

Juan Carlos Montero PhD. Biochemistry, 2004 is the author of 11 publications, one of which he is the principle author. All are international, and some have important highlights related to the theme of the project and are under the direction of Dr. Pandiella, who graduated with honours.


ErbB receptors and their ligands, and signalling Erk5 in translational cancer research.
The study involves the functional analysis proNeuregulia (proNRG) in breast cancer, by studying the functional properties of these proteins which are relevant for their biological and tumoural function. The studies involve a set inter-disciplinary approach to the problem, which include the majority of in vitro studies, and studies of gene signalling proNRG in samples of breast cancer patients and their possible correlation with clinical prognosis.

In addition, studying the other genes involved in the signalling path proNRG / Erb, including Erk5 kinase. Examination of the role of ERK5 in breast tumours and in animal samples which will be tested for the effects of constitutive activation of MEK5 in tumour genesis, and using patient samples.


Cancer Research Center of Salamanca-IBMCC (CSIC)


The team of Dr. Pandiella has a track record of significant scientific and academic international bibliographic seminal contributions in the field of ErbB signalling system. Undoubtedly, this guarantees the feasibility of the project and the scientific development.

•    D.P. Dr. Atanasio Pandiella
•    D.C. Dr. Eugenio Santos



ErbB receptors and their ligands. Signalling by Erk5 in cancer


October 2006 to October 2008


Juan Carlos Montero


Centro de Investigación del Cáncer de Salamanca (CIC)


Dr. Atanasio Pandiella (Person Responsible)


  1. To stablish whether there is any correlation  between  the expression of NRG and clinical response in breast cancer, and to better understand the structure and biological function of this protein in tumours.
  2. Studying the role of the Erk5 route in the genesis / progression of breast tumours using patient samples and different animal specimen.


The project is to study the role of a group of proteins (ligands) in different cancers, in order to determine what effect they have on the activation of erbB receptors (1) (proteins that are normally found in the cell membrane and control the cell division). These, when activated, transmit mitogenic signals (cell division) if there is sobrexpresión Ligand as “neurregulinas” (objective of the study)the erbB are activated producing an increased proliferation of cell division.


  •  NRG is frequently present in breast cancer. Patients who have NRG can benefit from treatment with Herceptin.
  •  The NRG is only capable of activating receptors ErbBs when both are located in the plasma membrane.
  •  Erk5 is exaggerated in 20% of patients with breast cancer. Patients with high levels of Erk5 have a worse     prognosis than those with low levels of Erk5.
  • Erk5/pErk5 expression can regulate the response to treatments that are used in clinics against breast cancer.