Research Papers:

EPHA4 is overexpressed but not functionally active in Sézary syndrome

Liesbeth Hameetman, Leslie van der Fits, Willem H. Zoutman, Jacoba J. Out-Luiting, Gregg Siegal, Iwan J.P. de Esch, Maarten H. Vermeer and Cornelis P. Tensen _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:31868-31876. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5573

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Liesbeth Hameetman1, Leslie van der Fits1, Willem H. Zoutman1, Jacoba J. Out-Luiting1, Gregg Siegal2, Iwan J.P. de Esch3, Maarten H. Vermeer1 and Cornelis P. Tensen1

1 Department of Dermatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

2 Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands

3 Leiden/Amsterdam Center for Drug Research (LACDR), Division of Medicinal Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Correspondence to:

Cornelis P. Tensen, email:

Keywords: cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, Sézary syndrome, EPHA4

Received: July 13, 2015 Accepted: August 15, 2015 Published: September 10, 2015


EPHA4 belongs to the largest subfamily of receptor tyrosine kinases. In addition to its function during development, overexpression of EPHA4 in tumors has been correlated with increased proliferation, migration and poor survival. Several genome-wide transcription profiling studies have demonstrated high EPHA4 expression in Sézary syndrome (SS), a leukemic variant of cutaneous CD4+ T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) with an aggressive clinical course and poor prognosis. In this study we set out to explore the functional role of EPHA4 in SS. Both high EPHA4 mRNA and protein expression was found in circulating SS-cells of patients compared to healthy CD4+ T-cells. However, using a phosphospecific EPHA4 antibody, phosphorylation of the EPHA4 kinase domain was not detected in either circulating or skin residing SS cells. Moreover, treatment with the phosphatase inhibitor pervanadate did not result in detectable phosphorylation of the EPHA4 kinase domain, in either SS cells or in healthy CD4+ T-cells. Thus, the results from our study confirm high EPHA4 expression in SS cells both on the mRNA and protein levels, making EPHA4 a good diagnostic marker. However, the overexpressed EPHA4 does not appear to be functionally active and its overexpression might be secondary to other oncogenic drivers in SS, like STAT3 and TWIST1.

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