EphrinA1 is released in three forms from cancer cells by matrix metalloproteases

Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Aug;32(16):3253-64. doi: 10.1128/MCB.06791-11. Epub 2012 Jun 11.


EphrinA1 is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked ligand for the EphA2 receptor, which is overexpressed in glioblastoma (GBM), among other cancers. Activation of the receptor by ephrinA1 leads to a suppression of oncogenic properties of GBM cells. We documented that a monomeric functional form of ephrinA1 is released from cancer cells and thus explored the mechanism of ephrinA1 release and the primary protein sequence. We demonstrate here that multiple metalloproteases (MMPs) are able to cleave ephrinA1, most notably MMP-1, -2, -9, and -13. The proteolytic cleavage that releases ephrinA1 occurs at three positions near the C terminus, producing three forms ending in valine-175, histidine-177, or serine-178. Moreover, deletion of amino acids 174 to 181 or 175 to 181 yields ephrinA1 that is still GPI linked but not released by proteolysis, underlining the necessity of amino acids 175 to 181 for release from the membrane. Furthermore, recombinant ephrinA1 ending at residue 175 retains activity toward the EphA2 receptor. These findings suggest a mechanism of release and provide evidence for the existence of several forms of monomeric ephrinA1. Moreover, ephrinA1 should be truncated at a minimum at amino acid 175 in fusions or conjugates with other molecules in order to prevent likely proteolysis within physiological and pathobiological environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology
  • Ephrin-A1 / metabolism
  • Ephrin-A1 / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Phosphoinositide Phospholipase C / pharmacology
  • Proteolysis
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Transfection


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Ephrin-A1
  • Ligands
  • Peptides
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Phosphoinositide Phospholipase C
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases