EPHB4 is a therapeutic target in AML and promotes leukemia cell survival via AKT

Blood Adv. 2017 Aug 28;1(20):1635-1644. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2017005694. eCollection 2017 Sep 12.


EPHB4, an ephrin type B receptor, is implicated in the growth of several epithelial tumors and is a promising target in cancer therapy; however, little is known about its role in hematologic malignancies. In this article, we show that EPHB4 is highly expressed in ∼30% of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) samples. In an unbiased RNA interference screen of primary leukemia samples, we found that EPHB4 drives survival in a subset of AML cases. Knockdown of EPHB4 inhibits phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT signaling, and this is accompanied by a reduction in cell viability, which can be rescued by a constitutively active form of AKT. Finally, targeting EPHB4 with a highly specific monoclonal antibody (MAb131) is effective against AML in vitro and in vivo. EPHB4 is therefore a potential target in AML with high EPHB4 expression.