EphA4, an Ephrins tyrosine kinase receptor, behaves as a dependence receptor (DR) by triggering cell apoptosis in the absence of its ligand Ephrin-B3. DRs act as conditional tumor suppressors, engaging cell death based on ligand availability; this mechanism is bypassed by overexpression of DRs ligands in some aggressive cancers. The pair EphA4/Ephrin-B3 favors survival of neuronal progenitors of the brain subventricular zone, an area where glioblastoma multiform (GBM) are thought to originate. Here, we report that Ephrin-B3 is highly expressed in human biopsies and that it inhibits EphA4 pro-apoptotic activity in tumor cells. Angiogenesis is directly correlated with GBM aggressiveness and we demonstrate that Ephrin-B3 also supports the survival of endothelial cells in vitro and in vivo. Lastly, silencing of Ephrin-B3 decreases tumor vascularization and growth in a xenograft mice model. Interference with EphA4/Ephrin-B3 interaction could then be envisaged as a relevant strategy to slow GBM growth by enhancing EphA4-induced cell death.
Keywords: Ephrin-B3/EphA4; angiogenesis; apoptosis; dependence receptors; glioblastoma.