Gene Summary

Gene:EPHB4; EPH receptor B4
Aliases: HTK, MYK1, HFASD, TYRO11
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:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:ephrin type-B receptor 4
Source:NCBIAccessed: 15 March, 2017


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 (1992-2017)
Graph generated 15 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 15 March, 2017 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)

Pierscianek D, Wolf S, Keyvani K, et al.
Study of angiogenic signaling pathways in hemangioblastoma.
Neuropathology. 2017; 37(1):3-11 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hemangioblastoma (HB) is mainly located in the brain and the spinal cord. The tumor is composed of two major components, namely neoplastic stromal cells and abundant microvessels. Thus, hyper-vascularization is the hallmark of this tumor. Despite the identification of germline and/or epigenetic mutations of Von Hippel Lindau (VHL) gene as an important pathogenic mechanism of HB, little is known about the molecular signaling involved in this highly vascularized tumor. The present study investigated the key players of multiple angiogenic signaling pathways including VEGF/VEGFR2, EphB4/EphrinB2, SDF1α/CXCR4 and Notch/Dll4 pathways in surgical specimens of 22 HB. The expression of key angiogenic factors was detected by RT(2) -PCR and Western blot. Immunofluorescent staining revealed the cellular localization of these proteins. We demonstrated a massive upregulation of mRNA levels of VEGF and VEGFR2, CXCR4 and SDF1α, EphB4 and EphrinB2, as well as the main components of Dll4-Notch signaling in HB. An increase in the protein expression of VEGF, CXCR4 and the core-components of Dll4-Notch signaling was associated with an activation of Akt and Erk1/2 and accompanied by an elevated expression of PCNA. Immuofluorescent staining revealed the expression of VEGF and CXCR4 in endothelial cells as well as in tumor cells. Dll4 protein was predominantly found in tumor cells, whereas EphB4 immunoreactivity was exclusively detected in endothelial cells. We conclude that multiple key angiogenic pathways were activated in HB, which may synergistically contribute to the abundant vascularization in this tumor. Identification of these aberrant pathways provides potential targets for a possible future application of anti-angiogenic therapy for this tumor, particularly when a total surgical resection becomes difficult due to the localization or multiplicity of the tumor.

Moshayedi M, Barneh F, Haghjooy-Javanmard S, et al.
A rapid and sensitive method for EphB4 identification as a diagnostic and therapeutic biomarker in invasive breast cancer.
J Cancer Res Ther. 2016 Jan-Mar; 12(1):188-92 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: In the roadmap to design diagnostic and therapeutic markers for breast cancer, EphB4 is of special interest due to its multiple roles in tumor initiation, progression and invasion. The aim of present study was to characterize a rapid and sensitive ELISA-based method to measure EphB4 level and its phosphorylation status following stimulation with its ligand, ephrinB2, in an invasive breast cancer cell line.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells were lysed and EphB4 level was measured using ELISA. EphB4 level was measured in sub- and post-confluent states in culture dishes. Receptor phosphorylation was also detected by ELISA assay, using various concentrations of pre-clustered ephrinB2 for 20 minutes.
RESULTS: Expression of EphB4 receptor was detected by ELISA in all samples. EphB4 level was significantly higher in post.confluent than sub.confluent cells. Phosphorylated receptor was also detectable with this method when cells were exogenously stimulated.
CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative data from ELISA manifested a difference between levels of EphB4 in two states of different invasive properties. Moreover, ELISA method may be considered rapid and sensitive enough to detect even low levels of total and phosphorylated EphB4 Cost-effectiveness of this method for the detection of differential expression of EphB4 proteins in clinics is also noticeable.

Pradeep S, Huang J, Mora EM, et al.
Erythropoietin Stimulates Tumor Growth via EphB4.
Cancer Cell. 2015; 28(5):610-22 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
While recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEpo) has been widely used to treat anemia in cancer patients, concerns about its adverse effects on patient survival have emerged. A lack of correlation between expression of the canonical EpoR and rhEpo's effects on cancer cells prompted us to consider the existence of an alternative Epo receptor. Here, we identified EphB4 as an Epo receptor that triggers downstream signaling via STAT3 and promotes rhEpo-induced tumor growth and progression. In human ovarian and breast cancer samples, expression of EphB4 rather than the canonical EpoR correlated with decreased disease-specific survival in rhEpo-treated patients. These results identify EphB4 as a critical mediator of erythropoietin-induced tumor progression and further provide clinically significant dimension to the biology of erythropoietin.

Liersch-Löhn B, Slavova N, Buhr HJ, Bennani-Baiti IM
Differential protein expression and oncogenic gene network link tyrosine kinase ephrin B4 receptor to aggressive gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancers.
Int J Cancer. 2016; 138(5):1220-31 [PubMed] Related Publications
Transmembrane tyrosine-kinase Ephrin receptors promote tumor progression and/or metastasis of several malignancies including leukemia, follicular lymphoma, glioma, malignant pleural mesothelioma, papillary thyroid carcinoma, sarcomas and ovarian, breast, bladder and non-small cell lung cancers. They also drive intestinal stem cell proliferation and positioning, control intestinal tissue boundaries and are involved in liver, pancreatic and colorectal cancers, indicating involvement in additional digestive system malignancies. We investigated the role of Ephrin-B4 receptor (EPHB4), and its ligand EFNB2, in gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancers in patient cohorts through computational, mathematical, molecular and immunohistochemical analyses. We show that EPHB4 is upregulated in preneoplastic gastroesophageal lesions and its expression further increased in gastroesophageal cancers in several independent cohorts. The closely related EPHB6 receptor, which also binds EFNB2, was downregulated in all tested cohorts, consistent with its tumor-suppressive properties in other cancers. EFNB2 expression is induced in esophageal cells by acidity, suggesting that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may constitute an early triggering event in activating EFNB2-EPHB4 signaling. Association of EPHB4 to both Barrett's esophagus and to advanced tumor stages, and its overexpression at the tumor invasion front and vascular endothelial cells intimate the notion that EPHB4 may be associated with multiple steps of gastroesophageal tumorigenesis. Analysis of oncogenomic signatures uncovered the first EPHB4-associated gene network (false discovery rate: 7 × 10(-90) ) composed of a five-transcription factor interconnected gene network that drives proliferation, angiogenesis and invasiveness. The EPHB4 oncogenomic network provides a molecular basis for its role in tumor progression and points to EPHB4 as a potential tumor aggressiveness biomarker and drug target in gastroesophageal cancers.

Yang X, Yang Y, Tang S, et al.
EphB4 inhibitor overcome the acquired resistance to cisplatin in melanomas xenograft model.
J Pharmacol Sci. 2015; 129(1):65-71 [PubMed] Related Publications
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the possible mechanisms of resistance to chemotherapy in melanoma from the perspective of molecular biology and to discuss the strategies to overcome them. Cisplatin, a DNA-damaging compound that triggers apoptotic cell death, is commonly used in the treatment of malignant melanoma. However, most patients develop mechanisms of acquired resistance and about 25% of them do not achieve tumor regression at all, due to intrinsic resistance to therapy. In the current study, we reported the tumor xenografts of the human A375 melanoma, after 40-weeks' consecutive therapy with cisplatin that developed resistance as a result of EphB4 overexpression. Moreover, the expression of phospho-AKT and phospho-ERK were significantly increased in cisplatin-resistant tumors. In addition, combined of cisplatin with EphB4 selective inhibitor could abrogate this acquired mechanism of drug resistance due to an enhanced apoptotic effect in cisplatin-resistant xenografts. In summary, these results help to understand the mechanisms of acquired resistance to chemotherapy and provide important information for clinical treatment strategies.

Huang G, Li M
The role of EphB4 and IGF-IR expression in breast cancer cells.
Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2015; 8(5):5997-6004 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: to investigate the role of EphB4 and IGF-1R in the proliferation and migration of breast cancer.
METHODS: The relative mRNA levels of EphB4 were measured by RT-PCR. The proliferation of the cells was determined by MTT assay, and cells migration and invasive ability was analyzed using the scratch migration assay.
RESULTS: The expression of EphB4 in control group was significantly decreased when compared with IGF-I group (P<0.001). The expression of EphB4 in IGF-I+LY and LY group were lower than that of the control group (P<0.001).The cell proliferation and migration ability of the cells in IGF-I group increased significantly compared to the cells in the control group (P<0.001), while the cells in IGF-1+LY group and LY group showed a decreased proliferation and migration ability compared to the control group (P<0.001).
CONCLUSION: IGF-IR might be a upstream gene of EphB4. Besides, higher expression of EphB4 shows increased tumor proliferation and migration in breast cells. The study of EphB4 upstream gene and signaling pathway can provide more targeted anti-tumor point selection for targeted therapy.

Dimasi N, Fleming R, Hay C, et al.
Development of a Trispecific Antibody Designed to Simultaneously and Efficiently Target Three Different Antigens on Tumor Cells.
Mol Pharm. 2015; 12(9):3490-501 [PubMed] Related Publications
Targeting Eph (erythropoietin producing hepatoma) receptors with monoclonal antibodies is being explored as therapy for several types of cancer. To test whether simultaneous targeting of EphA2, EphA4, and EphB4 would be an effective approach to cancer therapy, we generated a recombinant trispecific antibody using the variable domain genes of anti-EphA2, anti-EphA4, and anti-EphB4 monoclonal antibodies. A multidisciplinary approach combining biochemical, biophysical, and cellular-based assays was used to characterize the trispecific antibody in vitro and in vivo. Here we demonstrate that the trispecific antibody is expressed at high levels by mammalian cells, monodispersed in solution, thermostable, capable of simultaneously binding the three receptors, and able to activate the three targets effectively as evidenced by receptor internalization and degradation both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, pharmacokinetic analysis using tumor-bearing nude mice showed that the trispecific antibody remains in the circulation similarly to its respective parental antibodies. These results indicate that simultaneous blockade of EphA2, EphA4, and EphB4 could be an attractive approach to cancer therapy.

Ferguson BD, Tan YH, Kanteti RS, et al.
Novel EPHB4 Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Mutations and Kinomic Pathway Analysis in Lung Cancer.
Sci Rep. 2015; 5:10641 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Lung cancer outcomes remain poor despite the identification of several potential therapeutic targets. The EPHB4 receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) has recently emerged as an oncogenic factor in many cancers, including lung cancer. Mutations of EPHB4 in lung cancers have previously been identified, though their significance remains unknown. Here, we report the identification of novel EPHB4 mutations that lead to putative structural alterations as well as increased cellular proliferation and motility. We also conducted a bioinformatic analysis of these mutations to demonstrate that they are mutually exclusive from other common RTK variants in lung cancer, that they correspond to analogous sites of other RTKs' variations in cancers, and that they are predicted to be oncogenic based on biochemical, evolutionary, and domain-function constraints. Finally, we show that EPHB4 mutations can induce broad changes in the kinome signature of lung cancer cells. Taken together, these data illuminate the role of EPHB4 in lung cancer and further identify EPHB4 as a potentially important therapeutic target.

Mertens-Walker I, Fernandini BC, Maharaj MS, et al.
The tumour-promoting receptor tyrosine kinase, EphB4, regulates expression of integrin-β8 in prostate cancer cells.
BMC Cancer. 2015; 15:164 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The EphB4 receptor tyrosine kinase is overexpressed in many cancers including prostate cancer. The molecular mechanisms by which this ephrin receptor influences cancer progression are complex as there are tumor-promoting ligand-independent mechanisms in place as well as ligand-dependent tumor suppressive pathways.
METHODS: We employed transient knockdown of EPHB4 in prostate cancer cells, coupled with gene microarray analysis, to identify genes that were regulated by EPHB4 and may represent linked tumor-promoting factors. We validated target genes using qRT-PCR and employed functional assays to determine their role in prostate cancer migration and invasion.
RESULTS: We discovered that over 500 genes were deregulated upon EPHB4 siRNA knockdown, with integrin β8 (ITGB8) being the top hit (29-fold down-regulated compared to negative non-silencing siRNA). Gene ontology analysis found that the process of cell adhesion was highly deregulated and two other integrin genes, ITGA3 and ITGA10, were also differentially expressed. In parallel, we also discovered that over-expression of EPHB4 led to a concomitant increase in ITGB8 expression. In silico analysis of a prostate cancer progression microarray publically available in the Oncomine database showed that both EPHB4 and ITGB8 are highly expressed in prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, the precursor to prostate cancer. Knockdown of ITGB8 in PC-3 and 22Rv1 prostate cancer cells in vitro resulted in significant reduction of cell migration and invasion.
CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal that EphB4 regulates integrin β8 expression and that integrin β8 plays a hitherto unrecognized role in the motility of prostate cancer cells and thus targeting integrin β8 may be a new treatment strategy for prostate cancer.

Olmez I, Shen W, McDonald H, Ozpolat B
Dedifferentiation of patient-derived glioblastoma multiforme cell lines results in a cancer stem cell-like state with mitogen-independent growth.
J Cell Mol Med. 2015; 19(6):1262-72 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Emerging evidence shows that glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) originates from cancer stem cells (CSCs). Characterization of CSC-specific signalling pathways would help identify new therapeutic targets and perhaps lead to the development of more efficient therapies selectively targeting CSCs. Here; we successfully dedifferentiated two patient-derived GBM cell lines into CSC-like cells (induced glioma stem cells, iGSCs) through expression of Oct4, Sox2 and Nanog transcription factors. Transformed cells exhibited significant suppression of epidermal growth factor receptor and its downstream pathways. Compared with parental GBM cells, iGSCs formed large neurospheres even in the absence of exogenous mitogens; they exhibited significant sensitivity to salinomycin and chemoresistance to temozolomide. Further characterization of iGSCs revealed induction of NOTCH1 and Wnt/β-catenin signalling and expression of CD133, CD44 and ALDH1A1. Our results indicate that iGSCs may help us understand CSC physiology and lead to development of potential therapeutic interventions aimed at differentiating tumour cells to render them more sensitive to chemotherapy or other standard agents.

Mertens-Walker I, Lisle JE, Nyberg WA, et al.
EphB4 localises to the nucleus of prostate cancer cells.
Exp Cell Res. 2015; 333(1):105-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
The EphB4 receptor tyrosine kinase is over-expressed in a variety of different epithelial cancers including prostate where it has been shown to be involved in survival, migration and angiogenesis. We report here that EphB4 also resides in the nucleus of prostate cancer cell lines. We used in silico methods to identify a bipartite nuclear localisation signal (NLS) in the extracellular domain and a monopartite NLS sequence in the intracellular kinase domain of EphB4. To determine whether both putative NLS sequences were functional, fragments of the EphB4 sequence containing each NLS were cloned to create EphB4NLS-GFP fusion proteins. Localisation of both NLS-GFP proteins to the nuclei of transfected cells was observed, demonstrating that EphB4 contains two functional NLS sequences. Mutation of the key amino residues in both NLS sequences resulted in diminished nuclear accumulation. As nuclear translocation is often dependent on importins we confirmed that EphB4 and importin-α can interact. To assess if nuclear EphB4 could be implicated in gene regulatory functions potential EphB4-binding genomic loci were identified using chromatin immunoprecipitation and Lef1 was confirmed as a potential target of EphB4-mediated gene regulation. These novel findings add further complexity to the biology of this important cancer-associated receptor.

Becerikli M, Merwart B, Lam MC, et al.
EPHB4 tyrosine-kinase receptor expression and biological significance in soft tissue sarcoma.
Int J Cancer. 2015; 136(8):1781-91 [PubMed] Related Publications
Soft tissue sarcomas (STS) are heterogeneous malignant tumors of mesenchymal origin. Due to low incidence and high number of different histological subtypes, their pathogenesis and thus potential targets for their therapy remain barely investigated. Several studies revealed significant higher EPHB4 expression in malignancies such as prostate and colorectal cancer showing survival advantages for these tumor cells. Therefore we studied the expression of EPHB4 in a total of 46 clinical human specimens of different STS and human fibroblasts. EPHB4 mRNA and protein expression were significantly increased in synovial sarcoma. After targeting EPHB4 in fibrosarcoma, synovial sarcoma, liposarcoma and MFH sarcoma cell lines by siRNA or by inhibition of autophosphorylation using the specific EPHB4 kinase inhibitor NVP-BHG712 a decreased proliferation rate/vitality of synovial- and fibrosarcoma cells was observed. Silencing of EPHB4 significantly reduced the transmigration of synovial sarcoma cells towards fibroblasts and endothelial cells. In addition, we assessed the anti-metastatic effect of EPHB4 inhibition in vivo by intraperitoneal administration of the EPHB4 inhibitor in an appropriate sarcoma lung metastasis xenograft model. As result 43% of NVP-BHG712 treated mice (n = 3/7) developed pulmonary metastases whereas all control mice (n = 5) revealed lung metastases. The residual 57% of mice (n = 4/7) showed only small local tumor cell spots. Size measurements of the Vimentin positive area explained significant decrease in lung metastasis formation (p < 0.05) after EPHB4 kinase inhibition. In summary, these data provide first evidence of the importance of EPHB4 in the tumorigenesis of synovial sarcoma and present EPHB4 as a potential target in the therapy of this malignancy.

McKinney N, Yuan L, Zhang H, et al.
EphrinB1 expression is dysregulated and promotes oncogenic signaling in medulloblastoma.
J Neurooncol. 2015; 121(1):109-18 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Eph receptors and ephrin ligands are master regulators of oncogenic signaling required for proliferation, migration, and metastasis. Yet, Eph/ephrin expression and activity in medulloblastoma (MB), the most common malignant brain tumor of childhood, remains poorly defined. We hypothesized that Eph/ephrins are differentially expressed by sonic hedgehog (SHH) and non-SHH MB and that specific members contribute to the aggressive phenotype. Affymetrix gene expression profiling of 29 childhood MB, separated into SHH (N = 11) and non-SHH (N = 18), was performed followed by protein validation of selected Eph/ephrins in another 60 MB and two MB cell lines (DAOY, D556). Functional assays were performed using MB cells overexpressing or deleted for selected ephrins. We found EPHB4 and EFNA4 almost exclusively expressed by SHH MB, whereas EPHA2, EPHA8, EFNA1 and EFNA3 are predominantly expressed by non-SHH MB. The remaining family members, except EFNB1, are ubiquitously expressed by over 70-90 % MB, irrespective of subgroup. EFNB1 is the only member differentially expressed by 28 % of SHH and non-SHH MB. Corresponding protein expression for EphB/ephrinB1 and B2 was validated in MB. Only ephrinB2 was also detected in fetal cerebellum, indicating that EphB/ephrinB1 expression is MB-specific. EphrinB1 immunopositivity localizes to tumor cells within MB with the highest proliferative index. EphrinB1 overexpression promotes EphB activation, alters F-actin distribution and morphology, decreases adhesion, and significantly promotes proliferation. Either silencing or overexpression of ephrinB1 impairs migration. These results indicate that EphrinB1 is uniquely dysregulated in MB and promotes oncogenic responses in MB cells, implicating ephrinB1 as a potential target.

Li X, Choi WW, Yan R, et al.
The differential expression of EphB2 and EphB4 receptor kinases in normal bladder and in transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(8):e105326 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Effective treatment of transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the bladder requires early diagnosis. Identifying novel molecular markers in TCC would guide the development of diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Ephrins mediate signals via tyrosine kinase activity that modulates diverse physiologic and developmental processes, and ephrins are increasingly implicated in carcinogenesis. The aim of our study was to examine the differential regulation of EphB4 and EphB2 in normal bladder and in TCC of the bladder in 40 patients undergoing radical cystectomy for curative intent. Immunostaining and Western blotting revealed that normal urothelium expresses EphB2 (20 of 24 cases, 83% of the time) not EphB4 (0 of 24 cases, 0%). In sharp contrast, TCC specimens show loss of EphB2 expression (0 of 34 cases, 0%) and gain of EphB4 expression (32 of 34, 94%). Furthermore, EphB4 signal strength statistically correlated with higher tumor stage, and trended toward the presence of carcinoma in situ (CIS). These results are confirmed by analysis of normal urothelial and tumor cell lines. EphB2 is not a survival factor in normal urothelium, while EphB4 is a survival factor in TCC. Treatment of bladder tumor xenograft with an EphB4 inhibitor sEphB4-HSA leads to 62% tumor regression and complete remission when combined with Bevacizumab. Furthermore, tissue analysis revealed that sEphB4-HSA led to increased apoptosis, decreased proliferation, and reduced vessel density, implicating direct tumor cell targeting as well as anti-angiogenesis effect. In summary loss of EphB2 and gain of EphB4 expression represents an inflection point in the development, growth and possibly progression of TCC. Therapeutic compounds targeting EphB4 have potential for diagnosing and treating TCC.

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.

Wrobel T, Pogrzeba J, Stefanko E, et al.
Expression of Eph A4, Eph B2 and Eph B4 receptors in AML.
Pathol Oncol Res. 2014; 20(4):901-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Eph receptors represent the largest subfamily of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). The up- regulation of Eph receptors has been documented in various solid tumors, where it often correlates with poor prognosis. Their significance in hematologic malignancies is still unclear. This study aimed to investigate the expression of Eph A4, Eph B2, and Eph B4 mRNA in non - M3 AML patients and determine their prognostic significance. Bone marrow samples from 101 newly diagnosed non - M3 AML patients and 26 healthy controls for comparison were quantified by real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and the comparative cycle threshold (Ct) method was used to determine their relative expression levels to GUS control gene. The results showed that expression of all selected Eph receptors was significantly lower in AML patients comparing to controls. It also differed according to FAB subtypes. The decreased expression levels of Eph A4 were associated with higher leukocytes (p = 0.022) and blast cell counts (p = 0.001), and unfavorable FLT3-ITD mutation. Our study revealed significant correlation between lower EphB2 expression levels, and higher complete remission rate (p = 0.009724) and longer overall survival. Additionally, we found that patients with shorter RFS had decreased EphB4 expression (p = 0.00). In conclusion, the results suggest the prognostic impact of decreased expression levels of some Eph receptors in AML patients.

Sharma GK, Dhillon VK, Masood R, Maceri DR
Overexpression of EphB4, EphrinB2, and epidermal growth factor receptor in papillary thyroid carcinoma: A pilot study.
Head Neck. 2015; 37(7):964-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to examine the differential expression of EphB4, EphrinB2, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) genes in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) and evaluate their association with lymph node metastasis.
METHODS: EphB4, EphrinB2, and EGFR expression in 21 matched tumors and surrounding normal thyroid tissues were evaluated by complementary DNA (cDNA) microarray, Western blot, and immunohistochemistry (IHC).
RESULTS: We noted a statistically significant overexpression of EphB4, EphrinB2, and EGFR in tumor versus normal tissue based on cDNA microarray, Western blot, and IHC analysis. EphB4 and EphrinB2 overexpression were significantly associated with the presence of lymph node disease.
CONCLUSION: Overexpression of EphB4, EphrinB2, and EGFR are associated with PTC, whereas EphB4 and EphrinB2 overexpression are associated with lymph node metastases. These genes may be potential biomarkers for identification of subclinical lymph node involvement in PTC and potential small-molecule targets for pharmacotherapy research.

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.

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