EPHB4

Gene Summary

Gene:EPHB4; EPH receptor B4
Aliases: HTK, MYK1, TYRO11
Location:7q22
Summary:Ephrin receptors and their ligands, the ephrins, mediate numerous developmental processes, particularly in the nervous system. Based on their structures and sequence relationships, ephrins are divided into the ephrin-A (EFNA) class, which are anchored to the membrane by a glycosylphosphatidylinositol linkage, and the ephrin-B (EFNB) class, which are transmembrane proteins. The Eph family of receptors are divided into 2 groups based on the similarity of their extracellular domain sequences and their affinities for binding ephrin-A and ephrin-B ligands. Ephrin receptors make up the largest subgroup of the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) family. The protein encoded by this gene binds to ephrin-B2 and plays an essential role in vascular development. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:ephrin type-B receptor 4
HPRD
Source:NCBIAccessed: 27 February, 2015

Ontology:

What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 28 February 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 27 February, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: EPHB4 (cancer-related)

Li M, Zhao J, Qiao J, et al.
EphB4 regulates the growth and migration of pancreatic cancer cells.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(7):6855-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Pancreatic cancer is a serious threat to human life. Moreover, its treatment is complicated and its prognosis is very poor. Therefore, a new method for the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer is very essential. In this study, a eukaryotic expression plasmid targeting EphB4 was constructed and transfected into PANC-1 pancreatic cancer cells to investigate the inhibition of cell growth and the progression of iRNA against EphB4. This study provides the basis for the gene therapy of pancreatic cancer. The recombinant eukaryotic EphB4 expression plasmid, pSIREN-RetroQ-ZsGreen-EphB4 and a negative control plasmid, pSIREN-RetroQ-ZsGreen-N, were constructed. At 48 h after transfection, the relative messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein levels of EphB4 were measured by RT-PCR and western blot. The proliferation of the transfected cells was determined using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay, while cell migration ability was analyzed using the scratch migration assay. At 48 h after transient transfection, EphB4 mRNA expression was significantly decreased in transfected PANC-1 cells as compared to the control group (P < 0.01). In vitro, inhibition of EphB4 expression weakened the proliferation and cell migration ability of PANC-1 cells compared to the control group. The small interfering RNA (siRNA) eukaryotic expression plasmid vector targeting EphB4 was successfully constructed and effectively transfected into PANC-1 cells. The recombinant plasmid can inhibit the expression of EphB4 mRNA and protein in PANC-1 cells, as well as cell growth and migration.

Takahashi Y, Itoh M, Nara N, Tohda S
Effect of EPH-ephrin signaling on the growth of human leukemia cells.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(6):2913-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Signaling induced by binding of erythropoietin-producing hepatoma-amplified sequence (EPH) receptors to their cell-surface ephrin ligands is implicated in hematopoiesis and growth of various cancer cells. However, the roles of EPH-ephrin signaling in leukemia have not been elucidated. We investigated the effects of EPHB4 and ephrin B2 on the growth of leukemia cells.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Seven human leukemia cell lines were used to examine the effects of recombinant ephrin B2 and EPHB4 on cell proliferation by colorimetric WST-1 assay and colony assays; on protein tyrosine phosphorylation; and on mRNA expression by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and microarray analysis.
RESULTS: In an erythroid leukemia-derived cell line AA, exogenous ephrin B2 induced proliferation and colony formation; in addition, it up-regulated protein tyrosine phosphorylation and the expression of growth-related genes such as FBJ murine osteosarcoma viral oncogene homolog B and v-src avian sarcoma viral oncogene homolog.
CONCLUSION: Growth-promoting effects of ephrin B2 were observed in an erythroid leukemia cell line, suggesting that the EPH-ephrin signaling may be involved in the pathology of leukemia.

Hu F, Tao Z, Shen Z, et al.
Down-regulation of EphB4 phosphorylation is necessary for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma tumorigenecity.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(7):7225-32 [PubMed] Related Publications
Eph/ephrin signaling system plays a very important role in the tumorigenesis and the formation of blood vessel. However, the function of EphB4 and its ligand ephrin B2 in the carcinogenesis of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is not fully understood. Here, it was found that the expression of EphB4 was up-regulated in ESCC tissues compared with the paired normal tissues, while ephrin B2 was down-regulated in ESCC samples. Phosphorylation of EphB4 induced by its ligand ephrin B2-Fc inhibited the growth, migration and colony formation of ESCC cells. Moreover, over-expression of EphB4 or EphB4 kinase dead mutant (EphB4 KD) in ESCC cells promoted cell growth and migration, suggesting EphB4 promoted cell growth and migration independent of its kinase activity. Furthermore, we found that EphB4 interacted with the adaptor protein RACK1 and RACK1 decreased the phosphorylation level of EphB4. Taken together, our study revealed the important function and regulation of EphB4 in the progression of ESCC and suggested EphB4 as a novel target for the treatment of ESCC.

Ferguson BD, Liu R, Rolle CE, et al.
The EphB4 receptor tyrosine kinase promotes lung cancer growth: a potential novel therapeutic target.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(7):e67668 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Despite progress in locoregional and systemic therapies, patient survival from lung cancer remains a challenge. Receptor tyrosine kinases are frequently implicated in lung cancer pathogenesis, and some tyrosine kinase inhibition strategies have been effective clinically. The EphB4 receptor tyrosine kinase has recently emerged as a potential target in several other cancers. We sought to systematically study the role of EphB4 in lung cancer. Here, we demonstrate that EphB4 is overexpressed 3-fold in lung tumors compared to paired normal tissues and frequently exhibits gene copy number increases in lung cancer. We also show that overexpression of EphB4 promotes cellular proliferation, colony formation, and motility, while EphB4 inhibition reduces cellular viability in vitro, halts the growth of established tumors in mouse xenograft models when used as a single-target strategy, and causes near-complete regression of established tumors when used in combination with paclitaxel. Taken together, these data suggest an important role for EphB4 as a potential novel therapeutic target in lung cancer. Clinical trials investigating the efficacy of anti-EphB4 therapies as well as combination therapy involving EphB4 inhibition may be warranted.

Schmitt F, Nguyen PH, Gupta N, Mayer D
Eph receptor B4 is a regulator of estrogen receptor alpha in breast cancer cells.
J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 2013; 33(4):244-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Estrogen receptor alpha (ER-α) plays an important role in breast cancer initiation and progression and represents a major target in cancer therapy. The expression and activity of ER-α is regulated by multiple mechanisms at the transcriptional and post-translational level. Interaction of tyrosine kinase receptor-activated signaling pathways with ER-α function has been reported. We previously performed a kinome-wide small interfering RNA high-throughput screen to identify novel protein kinases involved in the regulation of ER-α transcriptional activity in human breast cancer cells. Our screening analysis identified the Eph receptor tyrosine kinases (Eph) as potential positive regulators of ER-α.
RESULTS: In this study, we demonstrate Eph receptor B4 (EphB4), a member of Eph kinase family, a positive regulator of ER-α in human breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7, T-47D and BT-474). Down-regulation of EphB4 by RNA interference technology impairs estrogen-dependent ER-α transcriptional activity in breast cancer cells. Decreased activity of ER-α after EphB4 knockdown is the consequence of diminished ER-α messenger RNA and protein expression. Furthermore, phosphorylation of Akt, a downstream mediator of EphB4, is reduced following EphB4 silencing.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggests EphB4 as an upstream regulator of ER-α in human breast cancer cells by modulating ER-α transcription. The results also suggest Akt as a relevant downstream signaling molecule in this novel EphB4-ER-α pathway.

Guijarro-Muñoz I, Sánchez A, Martínez-Martínez E, et al.
Gene expression profiling identifies EPHB4 as a potential predictive biomarker in colorectal cancer patients treated with bevacizumab.
Med Oncol. 2013; 30(2):572 [PubMed] Related Publications
The anti-VEGF monoclonal antibody bevacizumab was approved in 2004 as a first-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) in combination with chemotherapy and provided proof of principle for antiangiogenic therapy. However, there is no biomarker that can help to select patients who may benefit from bevacizumab in order to improve cost-effectiveness and therapeutic outcomes. The aim of this study was to compare gene expression profiles in CRC patients treated with bevacizumab who responded to the treatment with those that did not respond, in an effort to identify potential predictive biomarkers. RNA isolated from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor specimens of patients treated with bevacizumab was subjected to gene expression analysis with quantitative RT-PCR arrays profiling 84 genes implicated in the angiogenic process. Data were validated at the protein level using immunohistochemistry. We identified a gene, EPHB4, whose expression was significantly increased in nonresponders (p = 0.048, Mann-Whitney test). Furthermore, high EPHB4 tumor levels were associated with decreased median overall survival (16 months vs 48, Log-rank p = 0.012). This was not observed in a control group of CRC patients treated only with chemotherapy, suggesting that EPHB4 constitutes a potential predictive biomarker and not a mere prognostic one. These data support the notion of a potential synergy between EPHB4-EFNB2 and VEGF-VEGFR pathways, making patients with high EPHB4 expression more resistant to VEGF blocking. Therefore, determination of EPHB4 levels in CRC samples could be useful for the prediction of response to bevacizumab.

Reissenweber B, Mosch B, Pietzsch J
Experimental hypoxia does not influence gene expression and protein synthesis of Eph receptors and ephrin ligands in human melanoma cells in vitro.
Melanoma Res. 2013; 23(2):85-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrin ligands are considered to play important roles in melanoma progression and metastasis. Moreover, hypoxia is known to contribute to melanoma metastasis. In this study, the influence of experimental hypoxia on the expression and synthesis of EphA2 and EphB4, and their corresponding ligands ephrinA1, ephrinA5, and ephrinB2 was studied systematically in four human melanoma cell lines in vitro. Melanoma cell monolayer and spheroid cultures were used as both extrinsic and intrinsic hypoxia models. Hypoxic conditions were confirmed by analyzing hypoxia-inducible factors 1α or 2α expression, vascular endothelial growth factor expression, and cellular uptake of [F]fluoromisonidazole. In normoxia, EphA2, EphB4, ephrinA1, ephrinA5, and ephrinB2 expression was detectable in all cell lines to varying extents. Considerable protein synthesis of EphA2 was detected in all cell lines. However, no effect of experimental hypoxia on both Eph/ephrin expression and protein synthesis was observed. This contributes critically to the debate on the hypothesis that hypoxia regulates the Eph/ephrin system in melanoma.

Trošt N, Hevir N, Rižner TL, Debeljak N
Correlation between erythropoietin receptor(s) and estrogen and progesterone receptor expression in different breast cancer cell lines.
Int J Mol Med. 2013; 31(3):717-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
Erythropoietin (EPO) receptor (EPOR) expression in breast cancer has been shown to correlate with the expression of estrogen receptor (ESR) and progesterone receptor (PGR) and to be associated with the response to tamoxifen in ESR+/PGR+ tumors but not in ESR- tumors. In addition, the correlation between EPOR and G protein-coupled estrogen receptor 1 [GPER; also known as G protein-coupled receptor 30 (GPR30)] has been reported, suggesting the prognostic potential of EPOR expression. Moreover, the involvement of colony stimulating factor 2 receptor, β, low‑affinity (CSF2RB) and ephrin type-B receptor 4 (EPHB4) as EPOR potential receptor partners in cancer has been indicated. This study analyzed the correlation between the expression of genes for EPO, EPOR, CSF2RB, EPHB4, ESR, PGR and GPER in the MCF-7, MDA-MB-361, T-47D, MDA-MB-231, Hs578Bst, SKBR3, MCF-10A and Hs578T cell lines. The cell lines were also treated with recombinant human EPO (rHuEPO) in order to determine its ability to activate the Jak/STAT5, MAPK and PI3K signaling pathways and modify cell growth characteristics. Expression analysis stratified the cell lines in 2 main clusters, hormone-dependent cell lines expressing ESR and PGR and a hormone-independent cluster. A significant correlation was observed between the expression levels of ESR and PGR and their expression was also associated with that of GPER. Furthermore, the expression of GPER was associated with that of EPOR, suggesting the connection between this orphan G protein and EPO signaling. A negative correlation between EPOR and CSF2RB expression was observed, questioning the involvement of these two receptors in the hetero-receptor formation. rHuEPO treatment only influenced the hormone-independent cell lines, since only the MDA-MB-231, SKBR3 and Hs578T cells responded to the treatment. The correlation between the expression of the analyzed receptors suggests that the receptors may interact in order to activate signaling pathways or to evade their inhibition. Therefore, breast cancer classification upon ESR, PGR and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) may not be sufficient for the selection of suitable treatment protocol. The expression of EPOR, GPER and EPHB4 may be considered as additional classification factors.

Lehtinen L, Ketola K, Mäkelä R, et al.
High-throughput RNAi screening for novel modulators of vimentin expression identifies MTHFD2 as a regulator of breast cancer cell migration and invasion.
Oncotarget. 2013; 4(1):48-63 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Vimentin is an intermediate filament protein, with a key role in the epithelial to mesenchymal transition as well as cell invasion, and it is often upregulated during cancer progression. However, relatively little is known about its regulation in cancer cells. Here, we performed an RNA interference screen followed by protein lysate microarray analysis in bone metastatic MDA-MB-231(SA) breast cancer cells to identify novel regulators of vimentin expression. Out of the 596 genes investigated, three novel vimentin regulators EPHB4, WIPF2 and MTHFD2 were identified. The reduced vimentin expression in response to EPHB4, WIPF2 and MTHFD2 silencing was observed at mRNA and protein levels. Bioinformatic analysis of gene expression data across cancers indicated overexpression of EPHB4 and MTHFD2 in breast cancer and high expression associated with poor clinical characteristics. Analysis of 96 cDNA samples derived from both normal and malignant human tissues suggested putative association with metastatic disease. MTHFD2 knockdown resulted in impaired cell migration and invasion into extracellular matrix as well as decreased the fraction of cells with a high CD44 expression, a marker of cancer stem cells. Furthermore, MTHFD2 expression was induced in response to TGF-β stimulation in breast cancer cells. Our results show that MTHFD2 is overexpressed in breast cancer, associates with poor clinical characteristics and promotes cellular features connected with metastatic disease, thus implicating MTHFD2 as a potential drug target to block breast cancer cell migration and invasion.

Rahal OM, Pabona JM, Kelly T, et al.
Suppression of Wnt1-induced mammary tumor growth and lower serum insulin in offspring exposed to maternal blueberry diet suggest early dietary influence on developmental programming.
Carcinogenesis. 2013; 34(2):464-74 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Despite the well-accepted notion that early maternal influences persist beyond fetal life and may underlie many adult diseases, the risks imposed by the maternal environment on breast cancer development and underlying biological mechanisms remain poorly understood. In this study, we investigated whether early exposure to blueberry (BB) via maternal diet alters oncogene Wnt1-induced mammary tumorigenesis in offspring. Wnt1-transgenic female mice were exposed to maternal Casein (CAS, control) or blueberry-supplemented (CAS + 3%BB) diets throughout pregnancy and lactation. Offspring were weaned to CAS and mammary tumor development was followed until age 8 months. Tumor incidence and latency were similar for both groups; however, tumor weight at killing and tumor volume within 2 weeks of initial detection were lower (by 50 and 60%, respectively) in offspring of BB- versus control-fed dams. Dietary BB exposure beginning at weaning did not alter mammary tumor parameters. Tumors from maternal BB-exposed offspring showed higher tumor suppressor (Pten and Cdh1) and lower proproliferative (Ccnd1), anti-apoptotic (Bcl2) and proangiogenic (Figf, Flt1 and Ephb4) transcript levels, and displayed attenuated microvessel density. Expression of Pten and Cdh1 genes was also higher in mammary tissues of maternal BB-exposed offspring. Mammary tissues and tumors of maternal BB-exposed offspring showed increased chromatin-modifying enzyme Dnmt1 and Ezh2 transcript levels. Body weight, serum insulin and serum leptin/adiponectin ratio were lower for maternal BB-exposed than control tumor-bearing offspring. Tumor weights and serum insulin were positively correlated. Results suggest that dietary influences on the maternal environment contribute to key developmental programs in the mammary gland to modify breast cancer outcome in adult progeny.

Chen T, Liu X, Yi S, et al.
EphB4 is overexpressed in gliomas and promotes the growth of glioma cells.
Tumour Biol. 2013; 34(1):379-85 [PubMed] Related Publications
Glioma is one of the most common solid tumors, and the molecular mechanism for this disease is poorly understood. EphB4 tyrosine kinase receptor has been involved in various physiologic and pathologic processes, and the role of EphB4 in tumorigenesis has recently attracted much interest. However, its function in glioma remains largely unknown. In this study, we explored the function of EphB4 in glioma. We found that the expression of EphB4 was significantly upregulated in clinical glioma samples. Overexpression of EphB4 in glioma cell lines accelerated cell growth and tumorigenesis. In contrast, downregulation of EphB4 inhibited cell growth. Furthermore, we showed that EphB4 promoted cell growth by promoting EGFR signaling. Taken together, our findings suggest that EphB4 plays an important role in the progression of glioma by stimulating cell growth and EphB4 might be a potential therapeutic target for glioma.

Hasina R, Mollberg N, Kawada I, et al.
Critical role for the receptor tyrosine kinase EPHB4 in esophageal cancers.
Cancer Res. 2013; 73(1):184-94 [PubMed] Related Publications
Esophageal cancer incidence is increasing and has few treatment options. In studying receptor tyrosine kinases associated with esophageal cancers, we have identified EPHB4 to be robustly overexpressed in cell lines and primary tumor tissues. In total, 94 squamous cell carcinoma, 82 adenocarcinoma, 25 dysplasia, 13 Barrett esophagus, and 25 adjacent or unrelated normal esophageal tissues were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. EPHB4 expression was significantly higher in all the different histologic categories than in adjacent normal tissues. In 13 esophageal cancer cell lines, 3 of the 9 SCC cell lines and 2 of the 4 adenocarcinomas expressed very high levels of EPHB4. An increased gene copy number ranging from 4 to 20 copies was identified in a subset of the overexpressing patient samples and cell lines. We have developed a novel 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide (4-NQO)-induced mouse model of esophageal cancer that recapitulates the EPHB4 expression in humans. A specific small-molecule inhibitor of EPHB4 decreased cell viability in a time- and dose-dependent manner in 3 of the 4 cell lines tested. The small-molecule inhibitor and an EPHB4 siRNA also decreased cell migration (12%-40% closure in treated vs. 60%-80% in untreated), with decreased phosphorylation of various tyrosyl-containing proteins, EphB4, and its downstream target p125FAK. Finally, in a xenograft tumor model, an EPHB4 inhibitor abrogated tumor growth by approximately 60% compared with untreated control. EphB4 is robustly expressed and potentially serves as a novel biomarker for targeted therapy in esophageal cancers.

Li M, Zhao Z
Clinical implications of EphB4 receptor expression in pancreatic cancer.
Mol Biol Rep. 2013; 40(2):1735-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
In the study, we investigated the correlation between EphB4 receptor expression and the angiogenesis of pancreatic cancer. EphB4 receptor is unevenly distributed or distributed with small patches in pancreatic ductal cell cancer. While EphB4 receptor was not expressed in normal pancreatic tissues. It can be observed that the mRNA of EphB4 receptor is high expressed in all 15 cases of pancreatic ductal cell cancer tissues but not expressed in normal pancreatic tissues. Finally, positive correlation was observed between the mRNA expression level of EphB4 receptor and MVD. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that EphB4 receptor protein expression was related to tumor differentiation and clinical stage. It can be observed that MVD is relevant to histological differentiation and clinical stage. EphB4 receptor is correlated to the initiation, progression and tumor angiogenesis. In conclusion, EphB4 receptor maybe a promising targeted goal of antiangiogenic formation, which provides a new approach and method for tumor treatment.

Boberg DR, Batistela MS, Pecharki M, et al.
Copy number variation in ACHE/EPHB4 (7q22) and in BCHE/MME (3q26) genes in sporadic breast cancer.
Chem Biol Interact. 2013; 203(1):344-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gene amplifications and deletions are common changes in human cancer cells. Previous studies indicate that the regions, where the ACHE (7q22) and BCHE (3q26.1-q26.2) genes are localized, are suffering such structural modifications in breast cancer. Therefore, the products of these genes, acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase, respectively, are related to the process of cell differentiation and proliferation, as well as apoptosis. This study also included two other genes involved in tumorigenesis, the EPHB4 (7q22.1) and MME (3q21-27). The aim of this study was to verify amplification and/or deletion in the ACHE, BCHE, EPHB4 and MME genes in 32 samples of sporadic breast cancer. The gene alterations were detected using real-time PCR and determined by relative quantification with the standard curve method. All samples presented genetic alterations, showing a higher tendency for amplification of the ACHE (62.5% vs. 37.5%; p>0.1) and EPHB4 (53.13% vs. 46.88%; p>0.5) genes, and for deletions of the BCHE and MME genes (56.25% vs. 43.75% for both; p>0.5). A positive correlation was found between alterations in ACHE-EPHB4 and BCHE-MME pairs (r(s) = 0.5948; p = 0.0004; r(s) = 0.3581; p = 0.0478, respectively) indicating that these changes comprise a wide region. In conclusion, the results suggest that these genomic regions may contain important genes for this pathology, such as the oncogenes MET (7q31) and PIK3CA (3q26), and thus being interesting targets for future studies in breast cancer research.

Sikkema AH, den Dunnen WF, Hulleman E, et al.
EphB2 activity plays a pivotal role in pediatric medulloblastoma cell adhesion and invasion.
Neuro Oncol. 2012; 14(9):1125-35 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Eph/ephrin signaling has been implicated in various types of key cancer-enhancing processes, like migration, proliferation, and angiogenesis. In medulloblastoma, invading tumor cells characteristically lead to early recurrence and a decreased prognosis. Based on kinase-activity profiling data published recently, we hypothesized a key role for the Eph/ephrin signaling system in medulloblastoma invasion. In primary medulloblastoma samples, a significantly higher expression of EphB2 and the ligand ephrin-B1 was observed compared with normal cerebellum. Furthermore, medulloblastoma cell lines showed high expression of EphA2, EphB2, and EphB4. Stimulation of medulloblastoma cells with ephrin-B1 resulted in a marked decrease in in vitro cell adhesion and an increase in the invasion capacity of cells expressing high levels of EphB2. The cell lines that showed an ephrin-B1-induced phenotype possessed increased levels of phosphorylated EphB2 and, to a lesser extent, EphB4 after stimulation. Knockdown of EphB2 expression by short hairpin RNA completely abolished ephrin ligand-induced effects on adhesion and migration. Analysis of signal transduction identified p38, Erk, and mTOR as downstream signaling mediators potentially inducing the ephrin-B1 phenotype. In conclusion, the observed deregulation of Eph/ephrin expression in medulloblastoma enhances the invasive phenotype, suggesting a potential role in local tumor cell invasion and the formation of metastases.

Zheng MF, Ji Y, Wu XB, et al.
EphB4 gene polymorphism and protein expression in non-small-cell lung cancer.
Mol Med Rep. 2012; 6(2):405-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
The objective of this study was to identify new diagnostic, prognostic or therapeutic molecules for non-small- cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We investigated the expression of EphB4, a tyrosine kinase receptor which has been shown to act as a tumor promoter in other cancers. Using immunohistochemistry, we visualized EphB4 expression in 28 samples of NSCLC and 12 samples of adjacent normal tissues. Additionally, we assessed a single-nucleotide polymorphism in EphB4 to determine its effect on protein expression. The correlation of both genotype and protein expression with disease severity was determined. EphB4 was expressed in 53.6% of patients with lung cancer, a significant increase compared to control lung samples (0.0%, P<0.05). Furthermore, EphB4 expression was correlated with differentiation, lymph node metastasis and TNM stage of tumors (P<0.05). Additionally, the polymorphism in EphB4 at rs314310 appeared to correspond to protein expression and disease susceptibility. While the frequencies of CC, CA and AA genotypes were not different between lung cancer patients and healthy controls, the frequencies of C and A alleles were significantly different between these groups (P<0.05). Further analysis showed that the positive rate of EphB4 expression in patients with the AA genotype was significantly higher compared to that in patients with other genotypes (P<0.05). Overexpression of EphB4 plays a role in the occurrence and development of NSCLC, and the polymorphism at rs314310 may predispose individuals to this disease.

Xuqing W, Lei C, Zhengfa M, et al.
EphB4 is overexpressed in papillary thyroid carcinoma and promotes the migration of papillary thyroid cancer cells.
Tumour Biol. 2012; 33(5):1419-27 [PubMed] Related Publications
EphB4 tyrosine kinase receptor has been involved in various physiologic and pathologic processes, and the role of the EphB4 in tumorigenesis has recently attracted much interest. However, its function in papillary thyroid carcinoma remains poorly understood. In this study, we explored the function of EphB4 in papillary thyroid carcinoma. We found that the expression of EphB4 was significantly upregulated in clinical samples. Overexpression of EphB4 in papillary thyroid carcinoma cell lines accelerated cell migration. In contrast, downregulation of EphB4 inhibited cell migration and suppressed in vivo tumor metastasis. Furthermore, we showed that EphB4 promoted cell migration by inhibiting the phosphorylation of FAK and paxillin. Moreover, EphB4 promoted cell migration in a kinase-independent manner. Taken together, our findings suggest that EphB4 plays an important role in the progression of papillary thyroid carcinoma by stimulating cell migration and EphB4 might be a potential therapeutic target in papillary thyroid carcinoma.

Chmielecki J, Pietanza MC, Aftab D, et al.
EGFR-mutant lung adenocarcinomas treated first-line with the novel EGFR inhibitor, XL647, can subsequently retain moderate sensitivity to erlotinib.
J Thorac Oncol. 2012; 7(2):434-42 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: EGFR-mutant lung cancers are sensitive to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Unfortunately, they develop resistance, often due to acquisition of a second-site mutation (T790M). Current EGFR TKIs select for T790M in preclinical models of acquired resistance. We explored whether all EGFR TKIs similarly select for the T790M mutation using data from early clinical trials and established in vitro models of acquired resistance.
METHODS: We analyzed the clinical characteristics of eight patients with metastatic EGFR-mutant lung adenocarcinoma who were treated first-line with XL647 and then progressed. XL647 is an ATP-competitive inhibitor of EGFR, HER2, KDR, and EPHB4. Additional molecular preclinical studies were performed to characterize resistance.
RESULTS: Four patients displayed confirmed partial responses (PRs), three patients had unconfirmed PRs, and one patient displayed stable disease. Only one of five patients' tumor samples available for analysis after disease progression harbored the T790M mutation. Eight patients subsequently received erlotinib, with (n = 3) or without (n = 5) chemotherapy. Three of five patients treated with single-agent erlotinib derived additional benefit, staying on drug up to 9 months. EGFR-mutant PC-9 cells with acquired resistance to XL647 did not harbor the T790M mutation, displayed a distinct mRNA profile from PC-9 cells with T790M-mediated resistance, and were moderately sensitive to erlotinib in growth inhibition assays. Crystal structure analyses of XL647/EGFR T790M did not reveal a different binding mode from that of erlotinib.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this exploratory study suggest that different EGFR TKIs may select for distinct mechanisms of resistance. These results raise the possibility that different EGFR TKIs could be sequentially used to improve outcomes in patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer. Further work investigating this hypothesis is warranted.

Brantley-Sieders DM, Jiang A, Sarma K, et al.
Eph/ephrin profiling in human breast cancer reveals significant associations between expression level and clinical outcome.
PLoS One. 2011; 6(9):e24426 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Pre-clinical studies provide compelling evidence that Eph family receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and ligands promote cancer growth, neovascularization, invasion, and metastasis. Tumor suppressive roles have also been reported for the receptors, however, creating a potential barrier for clinical application. Determining how these observations relate to clinical outcome is a crucial step for translating the biological and mechanistic data into new molecularly targeted therapies. We investigated eph and ephrin expression in human breast cancer relative to endpoints of overall and/or recurrence-free survival in large microarray datasets. We also investigated protein expression in commercial human breast tissue microarrays (TMA) and Stage I prognostic TMAs linked to recurrence outcome data. We found significant correlations between ephA2, ephA4, ephA7, ephB4, and ephB6 and overall and/or recurrence-free survival in large microarray datasets. Protein expression in TMAs supported these trends. While observed no correlation between ephrin ligand expression and clinical outcome in microarray datasets, ephrin-A1 and EphA2 protein co-expression was significantly associated with recurrence in Stage I prognostic breast cancer TMAs. Our data suggest that several Eph family members are clinically relevant and tractable targets for intervention in human breast cancer. Moreover, profiling Eph receptor expression patterns in the context of relevant ligands and in the context of stage may be valuable in terms of diagnostics and treatment.

Herath NI, Spanevello MD, Doecke JD, et al.
Complex expression patterns of Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrin ligands in colorectal carcinogenesis.
Eur J Cancer. 2012; 48(5):753-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aberrant expression of Eph and ephrin proteins in human cancers is extensively documented. However, data are frequently limited to one gene and therefore incomplete and in some instances conflicting. We analysed expression of all Eph and ephrin genes in colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines and 153 clinical specimens, providing for the first time a comprehensive analysis of this system in CRC. Eph/ephrin mRNA expression was assessed by quantitative real-time PCR and correlated with protein expression (flow cytometry, Western blotting and immunocytochemistry). These data show that EphA1, EphA2, EphB2 and EphB4 were significantly over expressed in CRC. In all cases, at least one Eph gene was found in normal colon (EphA1, EphA2, EphB2, EphB4), where expression was observed at high levels in most CRCs. However, other Eph gene expression was lost in individual CRCs compared to the corresponding normal, EphA7 being a striking example. Loss of expression was more common in advanced disease and thus correlated with poor survival. This is consistent with the redundant functionality of Eph receptors, such that expression of a single Eph gene is sufficient for effector function. Overall, the data suggest a progressive loss of expression of individual Eph genes suggesting that individual CRCs need to be phenotyped to determine which Eph genes are highly expressed. Targeted therapies could then be selected from a group of specific antibodies, such as those developed for EphA1.

Masica DL, Karchin R
Correlation of somatic mutation and expression identifies genes important in human glioblastoma progression and survival.
Cancer Res. 2011; 71(13):4550-61 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cooperative dysregulation of gene sequence and expression may contribute to cancer formation and progression. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Network recently catalogued gene sequence and expression data for a collection of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumors. We developed an automated, model-free method to rapidly and exhaustively examine the correlation among somatic mutation and gene expression and interrogated 149 GBM tumor samples from the TCGA. The method identified 41 genes whose mutation status is highly correlated with drastic changes in the expression (z-score ± 2.0), across tumor samples, of other genes. Some of the 41 genes have been previously implicated in GBM pathogenesis (e.g., NF1, TP53, RB1, and IDH1) and others, while implicated in cancer, had not previously been highlighted in studies using TCGA data (e.g., SYNE1, KLF6, FGFR4, and EPHB4). The method also predicted that known oncogenes and tumor suppressors participate in GBM via drastic over- and underexpression, respectively. In addition, the method identified a known synthetic lethal interaction between TP53 and PLK1, other potential synthetic lethal interactions with TP53, and correlations between IDH1 mutation status and the overexpression of known GBM survival genes.

Rönsch K, Jäger M, Schöpflin A, et al.
Class I and III HDACs and loss of active chromatin features contribute to epigenetic silencing of CDX1 and EPHB tumor suppressor genes in colorectal cancer.
Epigenetics. 2011; 6(5):610-22 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aberrant Wnt/β-catenin signaling is a driving force during initiation and progression of colorectal cancer. Yet, the Wnt/β-catenin targets CDX1, EPHB2, EPHB3 and EPHB4 (EPHB2-4) act as tumor suppressors in intestinal epithelial cells and frequently appear to be transcriptionally silenced in carcinomas. The molecular mechanisms which underlie the apparent loss of expression of a subset of Wnt/β-catenin targets in a background of persistent pathway activity are largely unknown. To gain insight into this, we quantified expression of CDX1 and EPHB2-4 in human tissue specimens of case-matched colorectal normal mucosa, adenoma and invasive carcinoma. In particular EPHB2-4 display biphasic, albeit not strictly coincident, expression profiles with elevated levels in adenomas and decreased transcription in approximately 30% of the corresponding carcinomas. Consistent with their divergent and variable expression we observed considerable heterogeneity among the epigenetic landscapes at CDX1 and EPHB2-4 in a model of colorectal carcinoma cell lines. Unlike the inactive CDX1 locus, EPHB2-4 maintain DNA hypomethylation of their promoter regions in the silent state. A strong reduction of active histone modifications consistently parallels reduced expression of CDX1 and EPHB3 and to some extent of EPHB2. Accordingly, treatment with inhibitors for DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs) restored CDX1 and EPHB2-4 expression depending upon epigenetic features at their promoters but also upon cellular background. Overall our findings show that downregulation of CDX1 and EphB receptor genes occurs independently and that different branches of epigenetic control systems including class I and III HDACs contribute to epigenetic silencing of Wnt/β-catenin targets during colorectal tumorigenesis.

Astin JW, Batson J, Kadir S, et al.
Competition amongst Eph receptors regulates contact inhibition of locomotion and invasiveness in prostate cancer cells.
Nat Cell Biol. 2010; 12(12):1194-204 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metastatic cancer cells typically fail to halt migration on contact with non-cancer cells. This invasiveness is in contrast to normal mesenchymal cells that retract on contact with another cell. Why cancer cells are defective in contact inhibition of locomotion is not understood. Here, we analyse the dynamics of prostate cancer cell lines co-cultured with fibroblasts, and demonstrate that a combinatorial code of Eph receptor activation dictates whether cell migration will be contact inhibited. The unimpeded migration of metastatic PC-3 cells towards fibroblasts is dependent on activation of EphB3 and EphB4 by ephrin-B2, which we show activates Cdc42 and cell migration. Knockdown of EphB3 and EphB4 restores contact inhibition of locomotion to PC-3 cells. Conversely, homotypic collisions between two cancer cells results in contact inhibition of locomotion, mediated by EphA-Rho-Rho kinase (ROCK) signalling. Thus, the migration of cancer cells can switch from restrained to invasive, depending on the Eph-receptor profile of the cancer cell and the reciprocal ephrin ligands expressed by neighbouring cells.

Héroult M, Schaffner F, Pfaff D, et al.
EphB4 promotes site-specific metastatic tumor cell dissemination by interacting with endothelial cell-expressed ephrinB2.
Mol Cancer Res. 2010; 8(10):1297-309 [PubMed] Related Publications
The tyrosine kinase receptor EphB4 interacts with its ephrinB2 ligand to act as a bidirectional signaling system that mediates adhesion, migration, and guidance by controlling attractive and repulsive activities. Recent findings have shown that hematopoietic cells expressing EphB4 exert adhesive functions towards endothelial cells expressing ephrinB2. We therefore hypothesized that EphB4/ephrinB2 interactions may be involved in the preferential adhesion of EphB4-expressing tumor cells to ephrinB2-expressing endothelial cells. Screening of a panel of human tumor cell lines identified EphB4 expression in nearly all analyzed tumor cell lines. Human A375 melanoma cells engineered to express either full-length EphB4 or truncated EphB4 variants which lack the cytoplasmic catalytic domain (ΔC-EphB4) adhered preferentially to ephrinB2-expressing endothelial cells. Force spectroscopy by atomic force microscopy confirmed, on the single cell level, the rapid and direct adhesive interaction between EphB4 and ephrinB2. Tumor cell trafficking experiments in vivo using sensitive luciferase detection techniques revealed significantly more EphB4-expressing A375 cells but not ΔC-EphB4-expressing or mock-transduced control cells in the lungs, the liver, and the kidneys. Correspondingly, ephrinB2 expression was detected in the microvessels of these organs. The specificity of the EphB4-mediated tumor homing phenotype was validated by blocking the EphB4/ephrinB2 interaction with soluble EphB4-Fc. Taken together, these experiments identify adhesive EphB4/ephrinB2 interactions between tumor cells and endothelial cells as a mechanism for the site-specific metastatic dissemination of tumor cells. AACR.

Li M, Zhao ZW, Zhang Y, Xin Y
Over-expression of Ephb4 is associated with carcinogenesis of gastric cancer.
Dig Dis Sci. 2011; 56(3):698-706 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Gastric cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed malignancies in the world. The gene expression profile and molecular grouping of gastric cancer has been a challenging task due to its inherent complexity and variation among individuals.
AIMS: To determine the molecular mechanism associated with gastric carcinogenesis.
METHODS: We analyzed the gene expression profiles of 20 cancerous tissues and their tumor-adjacent tissue from patients with gastric cancer by using a 14 K cDNA microarray. The differentially expressed genes and their products were verified by semiquantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR), western blotting and immunohistochemistry of gastric cancer and normal tissue samples.
RESULTS: A total of 69 genes were found to be differentially regulated in the cancerous tissue. Among them, genes such as CDH17, ETV4, S100A6, S100A11, Ephb4, and KLK10 were confirmed by RT-PCR to be up-regulated, while genes such as NK4 and PPP2R1B were down-regulated. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry indicated that Ephb4 was over-expressed and localized to the cytoplasm of gastric cancer cells. Moreover, Ephb4 protein was observed as being significantly related to tumor size and pN category (p = 0.001 and 0.007, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: These newly identified genes might provide a valuable resource for understanding the molecular mechanism associated with the carcinogenesis of gastric cancer and for finding potential diagnostic markers of gastric cancer.

Spannuth WA, Mangala LS, Stone RL, et al.
Converging evidence for efficacy from parallel EphB4-targeted approaches in ovarian carcinoma.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2010; 9(8):2377-88 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
EphB4 is a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase that plays an important role in neural plasticity and angiogenesis. EphB4 is overexpressed in ovarian cancer and is predictive of poor clinical outcome. However, the biological significance of EphB4 in ovarian cancer is not known and is the focus of the current study. Here, we examined the biological effects of two different methods of EphB4 targeting (a novel monoclonal antibody, EphB4-131 or siRNA) using several ovarian cancer models. EphB4 gene silencing significantly increased tumor cell apoptosis and decreased migration (P < 0.001) and invasion (P < 0.001). Compared with controls, EphB4 siRNA-1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine alone significantly reduced tumor growth in the A2780-cp20 (48%, P < 0.05) and IGROV-af1 (61%, P < 0.05) models. Combination therapy with EphB4 siRNA-1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine and docetaxel resulted in the greatest reduction in tumor weight in both A2780-cp20 and IGROV-af1 models (89-95% reduction versus controls; P < 0.05 for both groups). The EphB4-131 antibody, which reduced EphB4 protein levels, decreased tumor growth by 80% to 83% (P < 0.01 for both models) in A2780-cp20 and IGROV-af1 models. The combination of EphB4-131 and docetaxel resulted in the greatest tumor reduction in both A2780-cp20 and IGROV-af1 models (94-98% reduction versus controls; P < 0.05 for both groups). Compared with controls, EphB4 targeting resulted in reduced tumor angiogenesis (P < 0.001), proliferation (P < 0.001), and increased tumor cell apoptosis (P < 0.001), which likely occur through modulation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase signaling. Collectively, these data identify EphB4 as a valuable therapeutic target in ovarian cancer and offer two new strategies for further development.

Zhang KX, Kim C, Chow E, et al.
Targeting trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer cells with a lentivirus engineered to bind antibodies that recognize HER-2.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011; 125(1):89-97 [PubMed] Related Publications
Targeting HER-2 over-expressing breast cancer cells with trastuzumab has resulted in significant improvements in both disease-free and overall survival rates. However, despite a favorable initial response, some cancer cells become resistant and develop into fatal metastatic disease. Here we report that we can specifically target HER-2 over-expressing and trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer cells by using an engineered lentivirus which has trastuzumab bound to its envelope. In vitro, this lentiviral construct mediated both the expression of reporter genes, such as enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) and firefly luciferase, as well as the therapeutic gene, herpes thymidine kinase (hTK), in HER-2 over-expressing cells. Subsequent application of the pro-drug ganciclovir selectively killed breast cancer cells in which lentivirus mediated expression of hTK. In vivo, we successfully targeted the expression of firefly luciferase to trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer tumors established in nude mice. Furthermore, we found that systemic administration of trastuzumab-bound lentivirus led to expression of EGFP in circulating trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer cells. In conclusion, HER-2 over-expressing breast cancer cells resistant to trastuzumab can be targeted for selective gene expression and destruction by viruses with envelope-proteins engineered to bind to this antibody.

Kuang SQ, Bai H, Fang ZH, et al.
Aberrant DNA methylation and epigenetic inactivation of Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and ephrin ligands in acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Blood. 2010; 115(12):2412-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Eph receptors and their ephrin ligands are involved in normal hematopoietic development and tumorigenesis. Using methylated CpG island amplification/DNA promoter microarray, we identified several EPH receptor and EPHRIN genes as potential hypermethylation targets in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We subsequently studied the DNA methylation status of the Eph/ephrin family by bisulfite pyrosequencing. Hypermethylation of EPHA2, -A4, -A5, -A6, -A7, -A10, EPHB1, -B2, -B3, -B4, EFNA1, -A3, -A5, and EFNB1 and -B2 genes was detected in leukemia cell lines and primary ALL bone marrow samples. Expression analysis of EPHB4, EFNB2, and EFNA5 genes demonstrated that DNA methylation was associated with gene silencing. We cloned the promoter region of EPHB4 and demonstrated that promoter hypermethylation can result in EPHB4 transcriptional silencing. Restoration of EPHB4 expression by lentiviral transduction resulted in reduced proliferation and apoptotic cell death in Raji cells in which EPHB4 is methylated and silenced. Finally, we demonstrated that phosphorylated Akt is down-regulated in Raji cells transduced with EPHB4. These results suggest that epigenetic silencing by hypermethylation of EPH/EPHRIN family genes contributes to ALL pathogenesis and that EPHB4 can function as a tumor suppressor in ALL.

Chan RC, Gutierrez B, Ichim TE, Lin F
Enhancement of DNA cancer vaccine efficacy by combination with anti-angiogenesis in regression of established subcutaneous B16 melanoma.
Oncol Rep. 2009; 22(5):1197-203 [PubMed] Related Publications
Immunotherapy of cancer offers great promise, however translation into human studies has yielded relatively poor results to date. The concept of combining cancer vaccination with angiogenesis inhibition is appealing, due to favorable safety profile of both approaches, as well as possible biological synergies. Here we studied the anti-tumor effects of combining plasmid DNA (pDNA) vaccination and anti-angiogenesis in B16F10 murine model. By using electroporation-mediated gene/pDNA delivery, the anti-tumor efficacy of vaccination with pDNAs encoding gp100, TRP2 and Ii-PADRE was facilitated by administration of soluble form of EphB4 fused with human serum albumin (sEphB4-HSA), or by co-delivery of pDNAs encoding Angiostatin and/or Endostatin. In an optimized administration protocol, melanoma vaccination together with intratumoral delivery of pDNAs encoding Angiostatin and Endostatin resulted in 57% tumor-free survival over 90 days after challenge. These data support the general concept that suppression of angiogenesis may allow for enhanced efficacy of anti-tumor immunity, suggesting the synergetic effects of therapeutic pDNA vaccination and angiogenesis inhibition in cancer therapy.

Dopeso H, Mateo-Lozano S, Mazzolini R, et al.
The receptor tyrosine kinase EPHB4 has tumor suppressor activities in intestinal tumorigenesis.
Cancer Res. 2009; 69(18):7430-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Colorectal cancer is the second cause of cancer-related death in the western world, and although the genetic and molecular mechanisms involved in the initiation and progression of these tumors are among the best characterized, there are significant gaps in our understanding of this disease. The role of EPHB signaling in colorectal cancer has only recently been realized. Here, we use animal models to investigate the role of EphB4 in intestinal tumorigenesis. Modulation of EPHB4 levels in colon cancer cell lines resulted in significant differences in tumor growth in a xenograft model, with low levels of EPHB4 associated with faster growth. In addition, using a genetic model of intestinal tumorigenesis where adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc) mutations lead to initiation of the tumorigenic process (Apc(min) mice), we show that inactivation of a single allele of EphB4 results in higher proliferation in both the normal epithelium and intestinal tumors, significantly larger tumors in the small intestine, and a 10-fold increase in the number of tumors in the large intestine. This was associated with a 25% reduction in the lifespan of Apc(min) mice (P < 0.0001). Gene expression analysis showed that EphB4 mutations result in a profound transcriptional reprogramming, affecting genes involved in cell proliferation, remodeling of the extracellular matrix, and cell attachment to the basement membrane among other functional groups of genes. Importantly, in agreement with the expression profiling experiments, using an in vitro assay, we show that loss of EPHB4 in colon cancer cells results in a significantly increased potential to invade through a complex extracellular matrix. Collectively, these results indicate that EphB4 has tumor suppressor activities and that regulation of cell proliferation, extracellular matrix remodeling, and invasive potential are important mechanisms of tumor suppression.

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