Membrane receptors are proteins found in cell membranes to which specific substances are bound. These substances, generically called ligands, can be growth factors, hormones, nerve information transmitters, medications, among others.
Each ligand binds to its specific receptor, thanks to the structural complementarity between the two molecules, as in a lock and key system. Once the ligand binds to its own receptor, a series of chemical reactions are triggered inside the cell, which culminate in the expression of genes that will activate specific functions, depending on the ligand.
In oncology, the union of certain membrane receptors with their respective ligands can lead to cell proliferation and angiogenesis, stimulating the development and progression of malignant neoplasms. Among these receptors is the HER-2 receptor.