Research Papers:

Ephrin B3 interacts with multiple EphA receptors and drives migration and invasion in non-small cell lung cancer

Ghazal Efazat, Metka Novak, Vitaliy O. Kaminskyy, Luigi De Petris, Lena Kanter, Therese Juntti, Per Bergman, Boris Zhivotovsky, Rolf Lewensohn, Petra Hååg and Kristina Viktorsson _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:60332-60347. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11219

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Ghazal Efazat1,*, Metka Novak1,*, Vitaliy O. Kaminskyy2, Luigi De Petris1, Lena Kanter1, Therese Juntti1, Per Bergman3, Boris Zhivotovsky2, Rolf Lewensohn1, Petra Hååg1, Kristina Viktorsson1

1Karolinska Biomics Center, Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden

2Institute of Environmental Medicine, Division of Toxicology, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

3Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery (MMK), Thoracic Surgery, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Kristina Viktorsson, email: [email protected]

Petra Hååg, email: [email protected]

Keywords: Ephrin B3, EphA2, NSCLC, migration, invasion

Received: September 17, 2015    Accepted: July 16, 2016    Published: August 11, 2016


Ephrin receptors (Ephs) are reported to control metastatic signaling of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and other tumors. Here we show for the first time that blocking expression of the Eph ligand Ephrin B3 inhibits NSCLC cell migration and invasion. We demonstrate that Ephrin B3 directly binds the EphAs EphA2, EphA3, EphA4, and EphA5. EphA2 Ser897 was previously shown to drive migration propensity of tumor cells and our study reveals that EphA2 stays phosphorylated on Ser897 in the Ephrin B3/EphA2 complex in NSCLC cells of different histology. Moreover, we report that within such Ephrin B3/EphA2 complex both Akt Ser 129 and p38MAPK are found indicating a potential to drive migration/proliferation. We also found the EMT marker E-cadherin expression to be maintained or increased upon Ephrin B3 blockade in NSCLC cells. Expression of Ephrin B3 was furthermore analyzed in a cohort of NSCLC stage IA-IB cases (n=200) alongside EphA2 and Ephrin A1. We found that Ephrin B3 was concomitantly expressed with EphA2 and Ephrin A1 with higher Ephrin B3 levels found in non-squamous than in squamous tumors, whereas EphA2 was higher expressed in well-differentiated than in low-differentiated tumors. In the entire NSCLC cohort, Ephrin B3 expression was not linked to patient survival, whereas a high EphA2 expression was associated with improved survival (p=0.03). In conclusion, we show that blocking Ephrin B3 expression inhibits NSCLC proliferation-, migration- and invasion capacity which calls for further studies on interference with Ephrin B3 as a possible therapeutic avenue in this tumor malignancy.

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