Purpose: EphA2, a member of the Eph receptor tyrosine kinases family, is an important regulator of tumor initiation, neovascularization, and metastasis in a wide range of epithelial and mesenchymal cancers; however, its role in colorectal cancer recurrence and progression is unclear.
Experimental design: EphA2 expression was determined by immunohistochemistry in stage II/III colorectal tumors (N = 338), and findings correlated with clinical outcome. The correlation between EphA2 expression and stem cell markers CD44 and Lgr5 was examined. The role of EphA2 in migration/invasion was assessed using a panel of KRAS wild-type (WT) and mutant (MT) parental and invasive colorectal cancer cell line models.
Results: Colorectal tumors displayed significantly higher expression levels of EphA2 compared with matched normal tissue, which positively correlated with high CD44 and Lgr5 expression levels. Moreover, high EphA2 mRNA and protein expression were found to be associated with poor overall survival in stage II/III colorectal cancer tissues, in both univariate and multivariate analyses. Preclinically, we found that EphA2 was highly expressed in KRASMT colorectal cancer cells and that EphA2 levels are regulated by the KRAS-driven MAPK and RalGDS-RalA pathways. Moreover, EphA2 levels were elevated in several invasive daughter cell lines, and downregulation of EphA2 using RNAi or recombinant EFNA1 suppressed migration and invasion of KRASMT colorectal cancer cells.
Conclusions: These data show that EpHA2 is a poor prognostic marker in stage II/III colorectal cancer, which may be due to its ability to promote cell migration and invasion, providing support for the further investigation of EphA2 as a novel prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.