The ephrin-A1 ligand and its receptor, EphA2, are expressed during tumor neovascularization

Oncogene. 2000 Dec 7;19(52):6043-52. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1204004.


Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrin ligands have been implicated in embryonic vascular development and in in vivo models of angiogenesis. Eph proteins may also regulate tumor neovascularization, but this role has not been previously investigated. To screen for Eph proteins expressed in tumor blood vessels, we used tumor xenografts grown in nude mice from MDA-MB-435 human breast cancer cells or KS1767 human Kaposi's sarcoma cells. By immunohistochemistry, the ephrin-A1 ligand and one of its receptors, EphA2, were detected throughout tumor vasculature. Double-labeling with anti-CD34 antibodies demonstrated that both ephrin-A1 and EphA2 were expressed in xenograft endothelial cells and also tumor cells. Furthermore, EphA2 was tyrosine-phosphorylated in the xenograft tumors, indicating that it was activated, presumably by interacting with ephrin-A1. Ephrin-A1 and EphA2 were also detected in both the vasculature and tumor cells of surgically removed human cancers. In an in vitro angiogenesis model, a dominant negative form of EphA2 inhibited capillary tube-like formation by human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), demonstrating a requirement for EphA receptor signaling. These data suggest that ephrin-A1 and EphA2 play a role in human cancers, at least in part by influencing tumor neovascularization. Eph proteins may represent promising new targets for antiangiogenic cancer treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Capillaries / growth & development
  • Capillaries / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen
  • Drug Combinations
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Ephrin-A1
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / metabolism
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Laminin
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / blood
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Phosphotyrosine / metabolism
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteoglycans
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / blood
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Receptor, EphA2
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / blood supply
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / metabolism
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / pathology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Drug Combinations
  • Ephrin-A1
  • Laminin
  • Ligands
  • Proteins
  • Proteoglycans
  • matrigel
  • Phosphotyrosine
  • Collagen
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, EphA2