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1.  Investigation of the expression of the EphB4 receptor tyrosine kinase in prostate carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2005;5:119.
The EphB4 receptor tyrosine kinase has been reported as increased in tumours originating from several different tissues and its expression in a prostate cancer xenograft model has been reported.
RT-PCR, western blotting and immunohistochemical techniques were used to examine EphB4 expression and protein levels in human prostate cancer cell lines LNCaP, DU145 and PC3. Immunohistochemistry was also used to examine localisation of EphB4 in tissue samples from 15 patients with prostate carcinomas.
All three prostate cancer cell lines expressed the EphB4 gene and protein. EphB4 immunoreactivity in vivo was significantly greater in human prostate cancers as compared with matched normal prostate epithelium and there appeared to be a trend towards increased expression with higher grade disease.
EphB4 is expressed in prostate cancer cell lines with increased expression in human prostate cancers when compared with matched normal tissue. EphB4 may therefore be a useful anti-prostate cancer target.
PMCID: PMC1266025  PMID: 16171530
2.  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.
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.
PMCID: PMC4141800  PMID: 25148033
3.  The receptor tyrosine kinase EphB4 is overexpressed in ovarian cancer, provides survival signals and predicts poor outcome 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;96(7):1083-1091.
EphB4 is a member of the largest family of transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinases and plays critical roles in axonal pathfinding and blood vessel maturation. We wanted to determine the biological role of EphB4 in ovarian cancer. We studied the expression of EphB4 in seven normal ovarian specimens and 85 invasive ovarian carcinomas by immunohistochemistry. EphB4 expression was largely absent in normal ovarian surface epithelium, but was expressed in 86% of ovarian cancers. EphB4 expression was significantly associated with advanced stage of disease and the presence of ascites. Overexpression of EphB4 predicted poor survival in both univariate and multivariate analyses. We also studied the biological significance of EphB4 expression in ovarian tumour cells lines in vitro and in vivo. All five malignant ovarian tumour cell lines tested expressed higher levels of EphB4 compared with the two benign cell lines. Treatment of malignant, but not benign, ovarian tumour cell lines with progesterone, but not oestrogen, led to a 90% reduction in EphB4 levels that was associated with 50% reduction in cell survival. Inhibition of EphB4 expression by specific siRNA or antisense oligonucleotides significantly inhibited tumour cell viability by inducing apoptosis via activation of caspase-8, and also inhibited tumour cell invasion and migration. Furthermore, EphB4 antisense significantly inhibited growth of ovarian tumour xenografts and tumour microvasculature in vivo. Inhibition of EphB4 may hence have prognostic and therapeutic utility in ovarian carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC2360128  PMID: 17353927
EphB4; ovarian cancer; apoptosis; angiogenesis; survival
4.  Inhibition of Tumor Growth and Angiogenesis by Soluble EphB41 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2004;6(3):248-257.
EphB receptors and their ephrinB ligands play a key role in the formation of a regular vascular system. Recent studies have also shown the involvement of Eph/ephrin interactions in malignant tumor progression and angiogenesis. We have generated soluble monomeric EphB4 (sEphB4)-expressing A375 melanoma cells to study the effect of dominant negatively acting sEphB4 on tumor growth and angiogenesis. Soluble EphB4-expressing A375 tumors grown subcutaneously in nude mice show dramatically reduced tumor growth compared to control tumors. The proliferative capacity of sEphB4-expressing cells in monolayer culture is not altered. Yet, sEphB4-expressing A375 cells cannot establish proper cell-cell contacts in three-dimensional spheroids. However, sEphB4 transfectants have reduced proliferation and apoptosis rates when grown in three-dimensional culture in vitro or in subcutaneous tumors in vivo. Analysis of the vascular phenotype of the tumors revealed a reduction of intratumoral microvessel density in sEphB4-expressing tumors. Corresponding to these mouse experiments, a matched pair analysis of EphB4 and ephrinB2 expression in human colon carcinomas revealed significantly upregulated levels of EphB4 expression compared to adjacent normal tissue. Taken together, the data identify dual effects of sEphB4 on the tumor and the vascular compartment that collectively inhibit tumor growth.
PMCID: PMC1502094  PMID: 15153337
Tumor; angiogenesis; endothelial cells; EphB4; EphrinB2
5.  EphB4 expression in pterygium is associated with microvessel density 
Objective: Angiogenesis is a key component of the pathogenesis process of pterygium, which is the growth of fibrovascular tissue on the cornea. It has been reported that EphB4, a receptor tyrosine kinase of the ephrin-Eph system, plays important role in vascular development during embryogenesis and tumor angiogenesis and is potentially involved in ocular angiogenesis. The aim of this study is to investigate the role of EphB4 in pterygia. Methods: Fifteen pterygium samples and their paired upper bulbar conjunctiva were evaluated for expression of EphB4 and CD31 by using immunohistochemical staining. The expression level of the mRNA of EphB4 gene in 7 pterygia and matched upper bulbar conjunctiva was evaluated by using a quantitative real-time RT-PCR analysis. Microvessel density (MVD) was assessed with antibody that targets CD31. Results: EphB4 protein was high expressed in the epithelium and stroma of pterygia compared to those in upper bulbar conjunctiva. Immunohistochemical staining showed that pterygia presented with statistically significant higher average count of microvessel compared to normal conjunctivae (28.24 ± 6.79 vs 11.09 ± 2.96 per high power field, P < 0.001). MVD values in stroma of the pterygium and normal conjunctiva presented a significant correlation with EphB4 staining (P < 0.001). Compared with autologous upper bulbar conjunctiva grafts, the expression of the EphB4 mRNA was increased in pterygia in 4 paired samples, including those 3 recurrent ones. Conclusion: The expression of EphB4 in pterygium was significantly related with the increased MVD and may be involved in angiogenesis. EphB4 protein is a potential target for treatment of pterygium.
PMCID: PMC4276167  PMID: 25550909
Pterygium; EphB4; MVD; angiogenesis
6.  Decreased expression of receptor tyrosine kinase of EphB1 protein in renal cell carcinomas 
Receptors tyrosine kinase of Eph superfamily plays an important role in human cancers. We previously found that EphB1 subtype is down-regulated in gastric cancer, colorectal cancer and ovary serous carcinoma. Fore the more, the decreased expression of EphB1 is related to invasion and metastasis in cancers. Although EphB1 has been revealed as an important receptor in cancers, our understanding of its roles in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is limited. In the present study, using specific anit-EphB1 polyclonal antibody and immunohistochemistry, we evaluated EphB1 protein expression levels in RCC specimens surgically resected from 82 patients (including 62 conventional clear-cell RCC, 10 papillary, and 10 chromophobic RCC cases). We found EphB1 protein is positively expressed in the epithelium of renal tubules. Decreased expression of EphB1 was found in all RCC carcinomas compared with expression in the normal epithelium of renal tubules. EphB1 protein moderately expressed in chromophobic RCC, weakly expressed in clear-cell RCC and negatively expressed in papillary RCC. Our results indicate that EphB1 may be involved in carcinogenesis of RCC, the molecular mechanisms of down-regulation of EphB1 including genetic and epigenetic alterations and the dedicated roles of EphB1 in occurrence and progress of RCC need to be explicated in next step.
PMCID: PMC4129041  PMID: 25120806
EphB1; renal cell carcinoma; down-regulation
7.  Ligand-dependent EphB1 signaling suppresses glioma invasion and correlates with patient survival 
Neuro-Oncology  2013;15(12):1710-1720.
Extensive evidence implicates the Eph receptor family of tyrosine kinases and its ligand, ephrin, in glioma invasion, but it remains incompletely understood how these receptors affect chemotactic behavior of glioma. We sought to identify the Eph family members that correlate with patients' survival and to reveal the function of Eph in glioma invasion.
Clinical relevance of EphB genes was confirmed in a clinically annotated expression data set of 195 brain biopsy specimens. The function of EphB was analyzed in vitro and in vivo.
Levels of mRNA of certain EphB members were significantly different in histological grades of glioma. According to Kaplan–Meier analysis, only the EphB1 level among 5 members of EphB emerged to be a powerful predictor of favorable survival in malignant glioma (n = 97, P = .0048), although the levels of EphB1 expression did not vary across the tumor grades. Immunoprecipitation showed that tyrosine phosphorylated EphB1 was not detected in all glioma cells tested. Forced overexpression and autophosphorylation of EphB1 in low expressor cell lines (U251, U87) did not affect cell migration or invasion in vitro, whereas EphB1 phosphorylation induced by ephrin-B2/Fc significantly decreased migration and invasion. Cells expressing ephrin-B2 showed noteworthy morphological changes consistent with migration induction; this alteration was negated by EphB1 overexpression. Concomitantly, overexpression of EphB1 abrogated the increased migration and invasion induced by ephrin-B2 in vitro and in vivo.
These data suggest that ligand-dependent EphB1 signaling negatively regulates glioma cell invasion, identifying EphB1 as a favorable prognostic factor in malignant glioma.
PMCID: PMC3829595  PMID: 24121831
glioma; invasion; migration; Eph-ephrin; tyrosine kinase
8.  Loss of expression of EphB1 protein in serous carcinoma of ovary associated with metastasis and poor survival 
Aberrant expression of receptors tyrosine kinase of Eph gene in human cancers is extensively documented. We previously found that EphB1 subtype is down-regulated in gastric cancer and colorectal cancer. Fore the more, decreased expression of EphB1 is related to invasion and metastasis in cancers. There is no published data regarding the role of EphB1 in ovarian cancer, which is the focus of the present study. The expression of EphB1 protein was determined in tissues from 74 patients with serous ovarian carcinoma and 12 normal ovarian epithelial tissues. The expression level of EphB1 protein in serous ovarian carcinoma was analyzed with respect to clinicopathological parameters and survival. EphB1 protein was positively stained in 12 normal ovarian epithelial samples, and negatively stained in 32 out of 74 (43.2%) serous ovarian cancers. Loss of expression of EphB1 protein was associated with higher tumor grade (P = 0.006), metastasis (P = 0.049) and high proliferative index Ki67 expression (P = 0.022), but not with FIGO stage (P = 0.0937), age at diagnosis (P = 0.624), and diameter of carcinoma (P = 0.108). In addition, loss of EphB1 protein in serous ovarian carcinoma was associated with a significantly worse overall survival (P = 0.015). Our data indicate that loss of EphB1 protein is associated with metastasis and poorer survival in patients with serous ovarian cancer. EphB1 may be used as a prognostic marker and a therapeutic target in serous ovarian carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3885486  PMID: 24427352
EphB1; serous ovarian carcinoma; metastasis; survival
9.  High expression of erythropoietin-producing hepatoma cell line-B2 (EphB2) predicts the efficiency of the Qingyihuaji formula treatment in pancreatic cancer CFPAC-1 cells through the EphrinB1-EphB2 pathway 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(1):17-24.
Our previous study demonstrated that inhibition of erythropoietin-producing hepatoma cell line-B2 (EphB2) expression resulted in the promotion of cancer growth, with EphB2 acting as a tumor suppressor in pancreatic cancer. Qingyihuaji formula (QYHJ), a traditional Chinese medicine, acts as an independent protective factor for pancreatic cancer patient survival and different patients have shown various responses to QYHJ treatment. In the current study, the different effects on tumor growth inhibition following QYHJ treatment in cells with different levels of EphB2 expression were investigated to reveal the mechanism. A subcutaneously transplanted tumor model using cancer cells with different levels of EphB2 expression were established in vivo and received a four-week QYHJ intervention. Tumor weight inhibitory rate and tumor volume deflation were evaluated. The cell cycle and apoptosis were analyzed by flow cytometry, and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis were used to assess mRNA and protein levels. The results showed that the tumor weight inhibitory rate was 31.40, 31.33 and 18.36% in CFPAC-1, CFPAC-1 control RNAi and CFPAC-1 EphB2 RNAi cells following QYHJ treatment, respectively. A statistically significant difference was identified in CFPAC-1 (P<0.05) and CFPAC-1 control RNAi (P<0.01) cells. In addition, a statistically significant increase was identified in the G0/G1 phase population (P<0.05) and a statistically significant decrease was identified in the S phase population (P<0.05) in CFPAC-1 and CFPAC-1 control RNAi cells; however, no significant difference was identified in the CFPAC-1 EphB2 RNAi cells following QYHJ treatment. QYHJ upregulated the mRNA and protein level of Eph receptor-interacting B1 (EphrinB1) in the cells that were expressing different levels of EphB2, however, QYHJ did not regulate EphB2 expression. In CFPAC-1 and CFPAC-1 control RNAi cells, the QYHJ treatment resulted in a statistically significant decrease in cyclin-dependent kinase 6 (CDK6) mRNA (P<0.05) and protein (P<0.05) levels. The high expression of EphB2 predicted the superior response rate to the QYHJ treatment through a mechanism of inhibiting the cell cycle by an EphrinB1-EphB2-induced CDK6 decrease in CFPAC-1 cells. Therefore, EphB2 acts as a predictive factor for QYHJ treatment in pancreatic cancer CFPAC-1 cells.
PMCID: PMC4063575  PMID: 24959213
erythropoietin-producing hepatoma cell line-B2; pancreatic cancer; Qingyihuaji formula; predictive factor
10.  The EphB4 Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Promotes Lung Cancer Growth: A Potential Novel Therapeutic Target 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67668.
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.
PMCID: PMC3699624  PMID: 23844053
11.  Converging Evidence for Efficacy from Parallel EphB4 Targeted Approaches in Ovarian Carcinoma 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(8):2377-2388.
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 to controls, EphB4 siRNA-DOPC 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-DOPC 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 level, decreased tumor growth by 80-83% (p<0.01 for both models) in the A2780-cp20 and IGROV-af1 models. 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 to 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 occurs through modulation of PI3K signaling. Collectively, these data identify EphB4 as a valuable therapeutic target in ovarian cancer and offer two new strategies for further development.
PMCID: PMC2933364  PMID: 20682653
EphB4; angiogenesis; receptor tyrosine kinase; EphrinB2; ovarian carcinoma
12.  A Chemical Genetic Approach Reveals Distinct Mechanisms of EphB Signaling During Brain Development 
Nature neuroscience  2012;15(12):1645-1654.
EphB receptor tyrosine kinases control multiple steps in nervous system development. However, it remains unclear whether EphBs regulate these different developmental processes directly or indirectly. In addition, as EphBs signal through multiple mechanisms, it has been challenging to define which signaling functions of EphBs regulate particular developmental events. To address these issues, we engineered triple knockin mice in which the kinase activity of three neuronally expressed EphBs can be rapidly, reversibly, and specifically blocked. Using these mice we demonstrate that the tyrosine kinase activity of EphBs is required for axon guidance in vivo. By contrast, EphB-mediated synaptogenesis occurs normally when the kinase activity of EphBs is inhibited suggesting that EphBs mediate synapse development by an EphB tyrosine kinase-independent mechanism. Taken together, these experiments reveal that EphBs control axon guidance and synaptogenesis by distinct mechanisms, and provide a new mouse model for dissecting EphB function in development and disease.
PMCID: PMC3509236  PMID: 23143520
13.  Soluble EphB4 Inhibition of PDGF-Induced RPE Migration In Vitro 
EphB4 receptor and its ligand, EphrinB2, have been shown to be important regulators of cell adhesion and migration. Although the critical role of this system has been explored in neurobiology and vascular biology, little is known about its role in epithelial biology and especially in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Here the authors show a novel mechanism by which soluble EphB4 modulates the migration of RPE cells mediated by platelet-derived growth factor. These results are relevant to human disorders involving RPE migration, such as proliferative vitreoretinopathy.
EphB4 receptor (EphB4) and its ligand (EphrinB2) play an important role in the regulation of cell adhesion, growth, and migration. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of EphB4 blockade by soluble EphB4 (sEphB4) on retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell migration and proliferation, induced by platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF), and to establish its relevance to proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR)
The expression of EphB4 and EphrinB2 in early-passage human RPE cells and in human PVR membranes was evaluated by confocal microscopy. The effect of sEphB4 (0.1–3 μg/mL) on PDGF (20 ng/mL)-induced RPE migration and proliferation was evaluated using a modified Boyden chamber assay and an MTT assay, respectively. Attachment to basement membrane matrix and fibronectin was assayed by MTT. Phosphorylation of FAK and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in retinal pigment epithelium was determined by Western blot analysis after exposure to sEphB4. The effect of sEphB4 on the phosphorylation of EphB4/EphrinB2 was demonstrated with the use of immunoprecipitation assays
EphrinB2 and EphB4 were expressed on human RPE cells in vitro and in cells within human PVR membranes. sEphB4 blocked EphB4 and EphrinB2 phosphorylation in RPE cells in vitro. sEphB4 reduced RPE migration in response to PDGF stimulation (P < 0.01). Similarly, sEphB4 inhibited RPE attachment and proliferation in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05). PDGF-induced phosphorylation of FAK and MAPK was inhibited by sEphB4
EphB4 and EphrinB2 are expressed in RPE cells and PVR membranes. sEphB4 inhibits PDGF-induced RPE cell attachment, proliferation, and migration. This effect may result from the inhibition of FAK and MAPK phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC2828363  PMID: 19696168
14.  Ephrin B2 Receptor and Microsatellite Status in Lymph Node-Positive Colon Cancer Survival1 
Translational Oncology  2013;6(5):520-527.
BACKGROUND: Ephrin B2 receptor (EphB2) is a target of the canonical wnt pathway implicated in colorectal carcinogenesis, and its down-regulation may be associated with adverse prognosis. We evaluated its prognostic value in resected colon cancer stratified by microsatellite status and other clinicopathologic characteristics. METHODS: We identified all cases of resected stage III colon cancer from 1995 to 2009 managed in the Capital Health district of Nova Scotia. Tissue microarrays were constructed and immunohistochemistry (IHC) for tumor EphB2 staining assigned into quartiles. Microsatellite status was evaluated by IHC for MutL homolog 1 (MLH1) and MutS homolog 2 (MSH2). Microsatellite stable tumors were defined as both MLH1/MSH2 (+/+); tumors staining otherwise were classified with microsatellite instability (MSI-H). Primary and secondary outcomes were disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS), respectively. RESULTS: We identified 159 cases with sufficient tissue for microarray analysis having a median follow-up of 3.47 years (range, 0.14–14). Median age was 61, 52% were male, 40% had an event, and 29% died. MSI-H was present in 18 (13%). Univariate analysis of EphB2 expression on DFS and OS showed a hazard ratio (HR) of 2.00 (P = .01) and 2.14 (P = .03), respectively. Multivariate analysis of EphB2 expression on DFS and OS showed an HR of 2.24 and 2.23, respectively, with tumor IHC ≤ 50%. CONCLUSIONS: In this cohort, decreased EphB2 expression was an independent prognostic factor for recurrence and death and may have prognostic relevance in tumors with MSI-H. However, this would require prospective validation in a larger study.
PMCID: PMC3799194  PMID: 24151532
15.  Targeted mutation of EphB1 receptor prevents development of neuropathic hyperalgesia and physical dependence on morphine in mice 
Molecular Pain  2008;4:60.
EphB receptor tyrosine kinases, which play important roles in synaptic connection and plasticity during development and in matured nervous system, have recently been implicated in processing of pain after nerve injury and morphine dependence. Subtypes of the EphB receptors that may contribute to the neuropathic pain and morphine dependence have not been identified. Here we demonstrate that the subtype EphB1 receptor is necessary for development of neuropathic pain and physical dependence on morphine. The results showed that peripheral nerve injury produced thermal hyperalgesia in wild-type (EphB1+/+) control littermate mice, but not in EphB1 receptor homozygous knockout (EphB1-/-) and heterozygous knockdown (EphB1+/-) mice. Hyperalgesia in the wild-type mice was inhibited by intrathecal administration of an EphB receptor blocking reagent EphB2-Fc (2 μg). Intrathecal administration of an EphB receptor activator ephrinB1-Fc (1 μg) evoked thermal hyperalgesia in EphB1+/+, but not EphB1-/- and EphB1+/- mice. Cellularly, nerve injury-induced hyperexcitability of the medium-sized dorsal root ganglion neurons was prevented in EphB1-/- and EphB1+/- mice. In chronically morphine-treated mice, most of the behavioral signs and the overall score of naloxone-precipitated withdrawal were largely diminished in EphB1-/- mice compared to those in the wild-type. These findings indicate that the EphB1 receptor is necessary for development of neuropathic pain and physical dependence on morphine and suggest that the EphB1 receptor is a potential target for preventing, minimizing, or reversing the development of neuropathic pain and opiate dependence.
PMCID: PMC2605438  PMID: 19025592
16.  Developmental Expression of Eph and Ephrin Family Genes in Mammalian Small Intestine 
Digestive diseases and sciences  2010;55(9):2478-2488.
Eph receptor tyrosine kinases EphB2 and EphB3, and ephrin-B1 ligand play a critical role in regulating small intestinal epithelial cell migration. Although well studied in developing brain, the expression pattern of Ephs/ephrins has not been delineated in the developing small intestine.
To examine the gene expression of all known members of Ephs/ephrins during development of mouse small intestine.
We examined the expression of 21 A- and B-Ephs/ephrins in mouse small intestine or the Caco2 cell-line using RT-PCR, qRT-PCR, and immunohistochemical analyses. EphB2 expressing cells from isolated crypts were detected by immunofluorescence and FACS analyses.
With the exception of EphA5, all family members were expressed throughout the intestine at all ages examined. Most were uniformly expressed. In contrast, levels of EphA4, -A8, -B4, and ephrin-B2 mRNA were highest during early fetal development and declined with age. At E15, EphB2 and EphB4 proteins were diffusely expressed in proliferating stratified intestinal epithelial cells. By E18, the proteins had become localized to cell membranes of columnar epithelial cells within intervillus regions, and later were expressed on epithelial cell membranes in adult crypts. EphB2 expressing cells can be specifically isolated from crypt cell fractions.
The current study represents the first analysis of Ephs/ephrins during intestinal development. The elevated expression of EphA4, -A8, -B4, and ephrin-B2 during the fetal period of intestinal morphogenesis suggests an important role in development. Continued intestinal expression of other family members implicates a role in differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3947671  PMID: 20112066
Development; Small Intestine; Eph; Ephrin; Receptor; Ligands
17.  EphB and Ephrin-B Interactions Mediate Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Suppression of Activated T-Cells 
Stem Cells and Development  2013;22(20):2751-2764.
Mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSC) express the contact-dependent erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular (Eph) receptor tyrosine kinase family and their cognate ephrin ligands, which are known to regulate thymocyte maturation and selection, T-cell transendothelial migration, activation, co-stimulation, and proliferation. However, the contribution of Eph/ephrin molecules in mediating human MSC suppression of activated T-cells remains to be determined. In the present study, we showed that EphB2 and ephrin-B2 are expressed by ex vivo expanded MSC, while the corresponding ligands, ephrin-B1 and EphB4, respectively, are highly expressed by T-cells. Initial studies demonstrated that EphB2-Fc and ephrin-B2-Fc molecules suppressed T-cell proliferation in allogeneic mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) assays compared with human IgG-treated controls. While the addition of a third-party MSC population demonstrated dramatic suppression of T-cell proliferation responses in the MLR, blocking the function of EphB2 or EphB4 receptors using inhibitor binding peptides significantly increased T-cell proliferation. Consistent with these observations, shRNA EphB2 or ephrin-B2 knockdown expression in MSC reduced their ability to inhibit T-cell proliferation. Importantly, the expression of immunosuppressive factors, indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase, transforming growth factor-β1, and inducible nitric oxide synthase expressed by MSC, was up-regulated after stimulation with EphB4 and ephrin-B1 in the presence of interferon (IFN)-γ, compared with untreated controls. Conversely, key factors involved in T-cell activation and proliferation, such as interleukin (IL)-2, IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, and IL-17, were down-regulated by T-cells treated with EphB2 or ephrin-B2 compared with untreated controls. Studies utilizing signaling inhibitors revealed that inhibition of T-cell proliferation is partly mediated through EphB2-induced ephrin-B1 reverse signaling or ephrin-B2-mediated EphB4 forward signaling by activating Src, PI3Kinase, Abl, and JNK kinase pathways, activated by tyrosine phosphorylation. Taken together, these observations suggest that EphB/ephrin-B interactions play an important role in mediating human MSC inhibition of activated T cells.
PMCID: PMC3787464  PMID: 23711177
18.  Spinal ephrinB/EphB signalling contributed to remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia via NMDA receptor 
One of the major unresolved issues in treating pain is the paradoxical hyperalgesia produced by opiates, and accumulating evidence implicate that EphBs receptors and ephrinBs ligands are involved in mediation of spinal nociceptive information and central sensitization, but the manner in which ephrinB/EphB signalling acts on spinal nociceptive information networks to produce hyperalgesia remains enigmatic. The objective of this research was to investigate the role of ephrinB/EphB signalling in remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia (RIH) and its downstream effector.
We characterized the remifentanil-induced pain behaviours by evaluating thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in a rat hind paw incisional model. Protein expression of EphB1 receptor and ephrinB1 ligand in spinal dorsal horn cord was determined by Western blotting, and Fos was determined by immunohistochemistry assay, respectively. To figure out the manner in which ephrinB/EphB signalling acts with N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor, we used MK-801, an antagonist of NMDA receptor, trying to suppressed the hyperalgesia induced by ephrinB1-Fc, an agonist of ephrinB/EphB.
Continuing infusion of remifentanil produced a thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia, which was accompanied with increased protein expression of spinal-level EphB1 receptor, ephrinB1 ligand and Fos; what appeared above was suppressed by pretreatment with EphB1-Fc, an antagonist of ephrinB/EphB or MK-801, and increased pain behaviours induced by intrathecal injection of ephrinB1-Fc, an agonist of ephrinB/EphB, were suppressed by MK-801.
Our findings indicated that ephrinB/EphB signalling is involved in RIH. EphrinB/EphB signalling might be the upstream of NMDA receptor.
What's already known about this topic?
EphBs receptors and ephrinBs ligands are involved in mediation of spinal nociceptive information and central sensitization.
The combination of EphB receptor and N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor induces long-term potentiation that is critical for causing excitation of spinal neuron and pain hyperalgesia.
What does this study add?
EphrinB/EphB signalling is involved in remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia (RIH).
EphrinB/EphB signalling might be the upstream of N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor in RIH.
PMCID: PMC4232047  PMID: 24737575
19.  EphB2 activity plays a pivotal role in pediatric medulloblastoma cell adhesion and invasion 
Neuro-Oncology  2012;14(9):1125-1135.
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.
PMCID: PMC3424207  PMID: 22723427
adhesion; Eph; EphB2; ephrin-B1; invasion; medulloblastoma
20.  Forward signaling by EphB1/EphB2 interacting with ephrin-B ligands at the optic chiasm is required to form the ipsilateral projection 
The European journal of neuroscience  2011;34(10):1620-1633.
EphB receptor tyrosine kinases direct axonal pathfinding through interactions with ephrin-B proteins following axon-cell contact. Since EphB:ephrin-B binding leads to bidirectional signals, the contributions of signaling into the Eph-expressing cell (forward signaling) or the ephrin-expressing cell (reverse signaling) cannot be assigned using traditional protein-null alleles. To determine if EphB1 is functioning solely as a receptor during axon pathfinding, a new knock-in mutant mouse was created, EphB1T-lacZ, that expresses an intracellular-truncated EphB1-β-gal fusion protein from the endogenous locus. As in the EphB1−/− protein-null animals, the EphB1T-lacZ/T-lacZ homozygotes fail to form the ipsilateral projecting subpopulation of retinal ganglion cell axons. This indicates that reverse signaling through the extracellular domain of EphB1 is not required for proper axon pathfinding of retinal axons at the optic chiasm. Further analysis of other EphB and ephrin-B mutant mice shows that EphB1 is the preferred receptor of ephrin-B2 and, to a lesser degree, ephrin-B1 in mediating axon guidance at the optic chiasm despite the coexpression of EphB2 in the same ipsilaterally projecting retinal axons.
PMCID: PMC3228319  PMID: 22103419
Axon guidance; binocular vision; EphB receptor; ephrin-B ligand; mouse
21.  Lentivirus Vector-Mediated Knockdown of Erythropoietin-Producing Hepatocellular Carcinoma Receptors B4 Inhibits Laser-Induced Choroidal Neovascularization 
To evaluate the efficacy of erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular carcinoma receptors B4 (EphB4) knockdown on the development of laser-induced choroidal neovascularization (CNV) in vivo.
We constructed recombinant lentiviral vectors (Lv) Lv-shRNA-EphB4 to specifically knock down the expression of EphB4. The mRNA and protein expression of EphB4 was investigated by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and western blot. CNV was induced by laser photocoagulation in C57BL/6 mice. The mice were then randomly assigned to be intravitreally injected with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), Lv-shRNA-EphB4 recombinant lentivirus, or an unrelated shRNA recombinant lentivirus (pFU LV-shRNA-NC). An uninjected group was used as the control. Fundus fluorescein angiography (FFA), histologic analysis, and choroidal flat mounts analysis were applied to evaluate the inhibition of CNV after an intravitreal injection.
Transfection of Lv-shRNA-EphB4 led to the knockdown of EphB4, and EphB4 mRNA was down-regulated by about 80%. FFA and histologic analysis revealed that the leakage areas and the mean thickness of CNV were much smaller in the Lv-shRNA-EphB4 group than in the PBS-treated, pFU Lv-shRNA-NC group and the non-injection group. Choroidal flat mounts showed significantly less leakage and smaller leakage areas in the Lv-shRNA-EphB4 group than those in other groups.
Knocking down the expression of EphB4 exerts an inhibitory effect on CNV in vivo. It may provide a potential strategy for the treatment of CNV.
PMCID: PMC3552177  PMID: 23035975
22.  Ephrin-independent regulation of cell substrate adhesion by the EphB4 receptor 
The Biochemical journal  2009;422(3):433-442.
Receptor tyrosine kinases of the Eph family become tyrosine phosphorylated and initiate signaling events upon binding of their ligands, the ephrins. Eph receptors such as EphA2 and EphB4 are highly expressed but poorly tyrosine phosphorylated in many types of cancer cells, suggesting a limited interaction with ephrin ligands. Nevertheless, decreasing the expression of these receptors affects the malignant properties of cancer cells, suggesting that Eph receptors may influence cancer cells independently of ephrin stimulation. Ligand-independent activities of Eph receptors in cancer, however, have not been demonstrated. By using siRNA interference to downregulate EphB4 in MCF7 and MDA-MB-435 cancer cells, we found that EphB4 inhibits integrin-mediated cell substrate adhesion, spreading, and migration and reduces β1 integrin protein levels. Low expression of the EphB4 preferred ligand, ephrin-B2, and minimal contact between cells in these assays suggest that cell contact-dependent stimulation of EphB4 by the transmembrane ephrin-B2 ligand does not play a role in these effects. Indeed, inhibitors of ephrin-B2 binding to endogenous EphB4 did not influence cell substrate adhesion. Increasing EphB4 expression by transient transfection inhibited cell substrate adhesion, and this effect was also independent of ephrin stimulation because it was not affected by single amino acid mutations in EphB4 that impair ephrin binding. The overexpressed EphB4 was tyrosine phosphorylated, and we found that EphB4 kinase activity is important for inhibition of integrin-mediated adhesion while several EphB4 tyrosine phosphorylation sites are dispensable. These findings demonstrate that EphB4 can affect cancer cell behavior in an ephrin-independent manner.
PMCID: PMC2866036  PMID: 19552627
ligand-independent; receptor tyrosine kinase; β1 integrin; cell attachment; cell spreading; cell migration
23.  EphB6 Receptor Modulates Micro RNA Profile of Breast Carcinoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22484.
Breast carcinoma cells have a specific pattern of expression for Eph receptors and ephrin ligands. EphB6 has previously been characterized as a signature molecule for invasive breast carcinoma cells. The transcription of EphB6 is silenced in breast carcinoma cells and its re-expression leads to decreased invasiveness of MDA-MB-231 cells. Such differences in phenotypes of native and EphB6 expressing MDA-MB-231 cells relate to an altered profile of micro RNAs. Comparative hybridization of total RNA to slides containing all known miRNAs by using locked nucleic acid (LNA) miRCURY platform yielded a significantly altered profile of miRNAs in MDA-MB-231 cells stably transfected with EphB6. After applying a threshold of change and a p-value of <0.001, the list of significantly altered miRNAs included miR-16, miR-23a, miR-24, miR-26a, miR-29a, miR-100, miRPlus-E1172 and miRPlus-E1258. The array-based changes were validated by real-time qPCR of miR-16, miR-23a, miR-24 and miR-100. Except miRPlus-E1172 and miRPlus-E1258, the remaining six miRNAs have been observed in a variety of cancers. The biological relevance of target mRNAs was predicted by using a common-target selection approach that allowed the identification of SMARCA5, SMARCC1, eIF2C2, eIF2C4, eIF4EBP2, FKABP5, FKBP1A, TRIB1, TRIB2, TRIB3, BMPR2, BMPR1A and BMPR1B as important targets of a subset of significantly altered miRNAs. Quantitative PCR revealed that the levels of SMARCC1, eIFC4, eIF4EB2, FKBP1a, FKBP5, TRIB1, TRIB3, BMPR1a and BMPR2 transcripts were significantly decreased in MDA-MB-231 cells transfected with EphB6. These observations confirm targeting of specific mRNAs by miR-100, miR-23a, miR-16 and miR-24, and suggest that the kinase-deficient EphB6 receptor is capable of initiating signal transduction from the cell surface to the nucleus resulting in the altered expression of a variety of genes involved in tumorigenesis and invasion. The alterations in miRNAs and their target mRNAs also suggest indirect involvement of EphB6 in PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways.
PMCID: PMC3139643  PMID: 21811619
24.  Divergent roles for Eph and Ephrin in Avian Cranial Neural Crest 
As in other vertebrates, avian hindbrain neural crest migrates in streams to specific branchial arches. Signalling from Eph receptors and ephrins has been proposed to provide a molecular mechanism that guides the cells restricting them to streams. In mice and frogs, cranial neural crest express a combination of Eph receptors and ephrins that appear to exclude cells from adjacent tissues by forward and reverse signalling. The objective of this study was to provide comparative data on the distribution and function of Eph receptors and ephrins in avian embryos.
To distinguish neural crest from bordering ectoderm and head mesenchyme, we have co-labelled embryos for Eph or ephrin RNA and a neural crest marker protein. Throughout their migration avian cranial neural crest cells express EphA3, EphA4, EphA7, EphB1, and EphB3 and move along pathways bordered by non-neural crest cells expressing ephrin-B1. In addition, avian cranial neural crest cells express ephrin-B2 and migrate along pathways bordered by non-neural crest cells expressing EphB2. Thus, the distribution of avian Eph receptors and ephrins differs from those reported in other vertebrates. In stripe assays when explanted cranial neural crest were given the choice between FN or FN plus clustered ephrin-B1 or EphB2 fusion protein, the cells strongly localize to lanes containing only FN. This preference is mitigated in the presence of soluble ephrin-B1 or EphB2 fusion protein.
These findings show that avian cranial neural crest use Eph and ephrin receptors as other vertebrates in guiding migration. However, the Eph receptors are expressed in different combinations by neural crest destined for each branchial arch and ephrin-B1 and ephrin-B2 appear to have opposite roles to those reported to guide cranial neural crest migration in mice. Unlike many of the signalling, specification, and effector pathways of neural crest, the roles of Eph receptors and ephrins have not been rigorously conserved. This suggests diversification of receptor and ligand expression is less constrained, possibly by promiscuous binding and use of common downstream pathways.
PMCID: PMC2405773  PMID: 18495033
25.  Involvement of EphB/Ephrin-B Signaling in Axonal Survival in Mouse Experimental Glaucoma 
Mice deficient in EphB2 or EphB3 were treated with experimental glaucoma. EphB mutants exhibited more severe axon degeneration than wild type littermates. Exogenous EphB2 protein attenuated axon degeneration in glaucomatous retina/optic nerve explants.
To examine the functional significance of EphB/ephrin-B upregulation in mouse experimental glaucoma.
In a loss-of-function approach, mouse mutants lacking EphB2 (EphB2−/−) or EphB3 (EphB3−/−) protein, and mutants expressing EphB2 truncated in the C-terminus (EphB2lacZ/lacZ) were subjected to laser-induced ocular hypertension (LIOH), an experimental mouse model of glaucoma. The number of optic nerve axons was counted in paraphenylenediamine (PPD)-stained sections and compared between EphB mutants and wild type littermates. In a gain-of-function approach, retina/optic nerve explants obtained from LIOH-treated animals were exposed to EphB2-Fc recombinant proteins or Fc control proteins. Tissue sections through the optic nerve head (ONH) were labeled with neuron-specific anti-tubulin β-III antibody to determine axonal integrity.
Both EphB2 and EphB3 null mutant mice exhibited more severe axonal degeneration than wild type littermates after treatment with LIOH. Mutant mice in which the C-terminal portion of EphB2 is truncated had an intermediate phenotype. Application of EphB2-Fc recombinant protein to LIOH-treated optic nerve explants resulted in greater sparing of tubulin β-III–containing retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons.
These results provide genetic evidence in mice that both EphB/ephrin-B forward and reverse signaling feed into an endogenous pathway to moderate the effects of glaucomatous insult on RGC axons. LIOH-induced axon loss is maintained in retina/optic nerve explants after removal from an ocular hypertensive environment. Exogenous application of EphB2 protein enhances RGC axon survival in explants, suggesting that modulation of Eph/ephrin signaling may be of therapeutic interest.
PMCID: PMC3292385  PMID: 22064993

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