Eph receptor tyrosine kinases in tumor and tumor microenvironment

Curr Pharm Des. 2004;10(27):3431-42. doi: 10.2174/1381612043383160.


Eph receptors are a unique family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) that play critical roles in embryonic patterning, neuronal targeting, and vascular development during embryogenesis. In adults, Eph RTKs and their ligands, the ephrins, are frequently overexpressed in a variety of cancers and tumor cell lines, including breast, prostate, non-small cell lung and colon cancers, melanomas, and neuroblastomas. Unlike traditional oncogenes that often function only in tumor cells, recent data show that Eph receptors mediate cell-cell interaction both in tumor cells and in tumor microenvironment, namely the tumor stroma and tumor vasculature. As such, Eph RTKs represent attractive potential targets for drug design, as targeting these molecules could attack several aspects of tumor progression simultaneously. This review will focus on recent advances in dissecting the role of Eph RTKs in tumor cells, tumor angiogenesis, and possible contribution to trafficking of inflammatory cells in cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ephrins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Receptors, Eph Family / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Eph Family / chemistry
  • Receptors, Eph Family / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Ephrins
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Eph Family