Crosstalk of the EphA2 receptor with a serine/threonine phosphatase suppresses the Akt-mTORC1 pathway in cancer cells.
ABSTRACT: Receptor tyrosine kinases of the Eph family play multiple roles in the physiological regulation of tissue homeostasis and in the pathogenesis of various diseases, including cancer. The EphA2 receptor is highly expressed in most cancer cell types, where it has disparate activities that are not well understood. It has been reported that interplay of EphA2 with oncogenic signaling pathways promotes cancer cell malignancy independently of ephrin ligand binding and receptor kinase activity. In contrast, stimulation of EphA2 signaling with ephrin-A ligands can suppress malignancy by inhibiting the Ras-MAP kinase pathway, integrin-mediated adhesion, and epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Here we show that ephrin-A1 ligand-dependent activation of EphA2 decreases the growth of PC3 prostate cancer cells and profoundly inhibits the Akt-mTORC1 pathway, which is hyperactivated due to loss of the PTEN tumor suppressor. Our results do not implicate changes in the activity of Akt upstream regulators (such as Ras family GTPases, PI3 kinase, integrins, or the Ship2 lipid phosphatase) in the observed loss of Akt T308 and S473 phosphorylation downstream of EphA2. Indeed, EphA2 can inhibit Akt phosphorylation induced by oncogenic mutations of not only PTEN but also PI3 kinase. Furthermore, it can decrease the hyperphosphorylation induced by constitutive membrane-targeting of Akt. Our data suggest a novel signaling mechanism whereby EphA2 inactivates the Akt-mTORC1 oncogenic pathway through Akt dephosphorylation mediated by a serine/threonine phosphatase. Ephrin-A1-induced Akt dephosphorylation was observed not only in PC3 prostate cancer cells but also in other cancer cell types. Thus, activation of EphA2 signaling represents a possible new avenue for anti-cancer therapies that exploit the remarkable ability of this receptor to counteract multiple oncogenic signaling pathways.
Project description:During tumor progression, EphA2 receptor can gain ligand-independent pro-oncogenic functions due to Akt activation and reduced ephrin-A ligand engagement. The effects can be reversed by ligand stimulation, which triggers the intrinsic tumor suppressive signaling pathways of EphA2 including inhibition of PI3/Akt and Ras/ERK pathways. These observations argue for development of small molecule agonists for EphA2 as potential tumor intervention agents. Through virtual screening and cell-based assays, we report here the identification and characterization of doxazosin as a novel small molecule agonist for EphA2 and EphA4, but not for other Eph receptors tested. NMR studies revealed extensive contacts of doxazosin with EphA2/A4, recapitulating both hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions recently found in the EphA2/ephrin-A1 complex. Clinically used as an ?1-adrenoreceptor antagonist (Cardura®) for treating hypertension and benign prostate hyperplasia, doxazosin activated EphA2 independent of ?1-adrenoreceptor. Similar to ephrin-A1, doxazosin inhibited Akt and ERK kinase activities in an EphA2-dependent manner. Treatment with doxazosin triggered EphA2 receptor internalization, and suppressed haptotactic and chemotactic migration of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and glioma cells. Moreover, in an orthotopic xenograft model, doxazosin reduced distal metastasis of human prostate cancer cells and prolonged survival in recipient mice. To our knowledge, doxazosin is the first small molecule agonist of a receptor tyrosine kinase that is capable of inhibiting malignant behaviors in vitro and in vivo.
Project description:The EphA2 receptor tyrosine kinase plays key roles in tissue homeostasis and disease processes such as cancer, pathological angiogenesis, and inflammation through two distinct signaling mechanisms. EphA2 "canonical" signaling involves ephrin-A ligand binding, tyrosine autophosphorylation, and kinase activity; EphA2 "noncanonical" signaling involves phosphorylation of serine 897 (S897) by AKT and RSK kinases. To identify small molecules counteracting EphA2 canonical signaling, we developed a high-content screening platform measuring inhibition of ephrin-A1-induced PC3 prostate cancer cell retraction. Surprisingly, most hits from a screened collection of pharmacologically active compounds are agents that elevate intracellular cAMP by activating G protein-coupled receptors such as the ?2-adrenoceptor. We found that cAMP promotes phosphorylation of S897 by protein kinase A (PKA) as well as increases the phosphorylation of several nearby serine/threonine residues, which constitute a phosphorylation hotspot. Whereas EphA2 canonical and noncanonical signaling have been viewed as mutually exclusive, we show that S897 phosphorylation by PKA can coexist with EphA2 tyrosine phosphorylation and block cell retraction induced by EphA2 kinase activity. Our findings reveal a novel paradigm in EphA2 function involving the interplay of canonical and noncanonical signaling and highlight the ability of the ?2-adrenoceptor/cAMP/PKA axis to rewire EphA2 signaling in a subset of cancer cells.
Project description:The EphA2 receptor tyrosine kinase has emerged as a promising new therapeutic target in cancer because of its high level of expression in tumors. EphA2-specific antibodies have been used to deliver drugs and toxins to tumor cells, leading to inhibition of tumor growth and metastatic dissemination. We previously identified two related peptides, YSA and SWL, that selectively bind to the ligand-binding domain of EphA2 but not other Eph receptors and could therefore be useful as selective targeting agents. Here we characterize the two peptides and a series of derivatives. On the basis of systematic amino acid replacements, only five YSA residues appear to be critical for high-affinity receptor binding. Furthermore, a peptide comprising only the first five residues of YSA retains selectivity for EphA2. Similar to ephrin-A1, the physiological ligand for EphA2, both YSA and SWL activate EphA2 and inhibit downstream oncogenic signaling pathways in PC3 cancer cells. The two peptides and derivatives are quite stable in conditioned cell culture medium and show promise for delivering drugs and imaging agents to EphA2-expressing tumors.
Project description:BACKGROUND: High intake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) has been associated with clinical progression in prostate cancer (CaP). This study investigates the signalling mechanism by which the omega-6 PUFA arachidonic acid (AA) induces prostatic cellular migration to bone marrow stroma. METHODS: Western blot analysis of the PC-3, PC3-GFP, DU 145 and LNCaP cells or their lipid raft (LR) components post AA stimulation was conducted in association with assays for adhesion and invasion through the bone marrow endothelial monolayers. RESULTS: Arachidonic acid increased transendothelial migration of PC3-GFP cells (adhesion 37%±0.08, P=0.0124; transmigration 270%±0.145, P=0.0008). Akt, Src and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) pathways were induced by AA and integrally involved in transendothelial migration. LR were critical in AA uptake and induced Akt activity. Ephrin receptor A2 (EphA2), localised in LR, is expressed in DU 145 and PC-3 cells. Arachidonic acid induced a rapid increase of EphA2 Akt-dependent/ligand-independent activation, while knockdown of the EphrinA1 ligand decreased AA induced transendothelial migration, with an associated decrease in Src and FAK activity. Arachidonic acid activated Akt in EphA2(-) LNCaP cells but failed to induce BMEC transendothelial invasion. CONCLUSION: Arachidonic acid induced stimulation of EphA2 in vitro is associated fundamentally with CaP epithelial migration across the endothelial barrier.
Project description:Eph receptor (Eph) and ephrin signaling can play central roles in prostate cancer and other cancer types. Exposed to ephrin-A1 PC3 prostate cancer cells alter adhesion to extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. However, whether PC3 cells increase or reduce adhesion, and by which mechanisms they change adhesion to the ECM remains to be characterized. Here, we assay how ephrin-A1 stimulates PC3 cells to adhere to ECM proteins using single-cell force spectroscopy. We find that PC3 cells binding to immobilized ephrin-A1 but not to solubilized ephrin-A1 specifically strengthen adhesion to collagen I. This Eph-ephrin-A1 signaling, which we suppose is based on mechanotransduction, stimulates ?1-subunit containing integrin adhesion via the protein kinase Akt and the guanine nucleotide-exchange factor cytohesin. Inhibiting the small GTPases, Rap1 or Rac1, generally lowered adhesion of PC3 prostate cancer cells. Our finding suggests a mechanism by which PC3 prostate cancer cells exposed to ephrins crosstalk to ?1-integrins and preferably metastasize in bone, a collagen I rich tissue.
Project description:Both pro- and antioncogenic properties have been attributed to EphA2 kinase. We report that a possible cause for this apparent paradox is diametrically opposite roles of EphA2 in regulating cell migration and invasion. While activation of EphA2 with its ligand ephrin-A1 inhibited chemotactic migration of glioma and prostate cancer cells, EphA2 overexpression promoted migration in a ligand-independent manner. Surprisingly, the latter effects required phosphorylation of EphA2 on serine 897 by Akt, and S897A mutation abolished ligand-independent promotion of cell motility. Ephrin-A1 stimulation of EphA2 negated Akt activation by growth factors and caused EphA2 dephosphorylation on S897. In human astrocytoma, S897 phosphorylation was correlated with tumor grades and Akt activation, suggesting that the Akt-EphA2 crosstalk may contribute to brain tumor progression.
Project description:Eph-ephrin system plays a central role in a large variety of human cancers. In fact, alterated expression and/or de-regulated function of Eph-ephrin system promotes tumorigenesis and development of a more aggressive and metastatic tumour phenotype. In particular EphA2 upregulation is correlated with tumour stage and progression and the expression of EphA2 in non-transformed cells induces malignant transformation and confers tumorigenic potential. Based on these evidences our aim was to identify small molecules able to modulate EphA2-ephrinA1 activity through an ELISA-based binding screening. We identified lithocholic acid (LCA) as a competitive and reversible ligand inhibiting EphA2-ephrinA1 interaction (Ki =? 49 µM). Since each ephrin binds many Eph receptors, also LCA does not discriminate between different Eph-ephrin binding suggesting an interaction with a highly conserved region of Eph receptor family. Structurally related bile acids neither inhibited Eph-ephrin binding nor affected Eph phosphorylation. Conversely, LCA inhibited EphA2 phosphorylation induced by ephrinA1-Fc in PC3 and HT29 human prostate and colon adenocarcinoma cell lines (IC(50)? = 48 and 66 µM, respectively) without affecting cell viability or other receptor tyrosine-kinase (EGFR, VEGFR, IGFR1?, IRK?) activity. LCA did not inhibit the enzymatic kinase activity of EphA2 at 100 µM (LANCE method) confirming to target the Eph-ephrin protein-protein interaction. Finally, LCA inhibited cell rounding and retraction induced by EphA2 activation in PC3 cells. In conclusion, our findings identified a hit compound useful for the development of molecules targeting ephrin system. Moreover, as ephrin signalling is a key player in the intestinal cell renewal, our work could provide an interesting starting point for further investigations about the role of LCA in the intestinal homeostasis.
Project description:Eph/ephrin signaling proteins are present in the corneal epithelium, where their function remains unknown. The authors examined the role of the EphA2 receptor and ephrin-A1 ligand in human corneal epithelial cell migration.Immunohistochemical analysis of EphA2 and ephrin-A1 in healthy and diabetic corneas was performed in concert with linear scratch wound healing studies in primary and telomerase-immortalized human corneal epithelial cells. Corneal epithelial cells were exposed to a soluble ephrin-A1-Fc peptide mimetic that targets EphA2 to trigger receptor phosphorylation and subsequent downregulation. Genetic modulation of EphA2 and ephrin-A1 levels was combined with manipulation of Erk1/2 or Akt signaling during wound healing.EphA2 was immunolocalized to human corneal epithelial cells in vivo and in vitro. Ephrin-A1 ligand targeting of EphA2 restricted the ability of corneal epithelial cells to seal linear scratch wounds in a manner that was associated with a transient reduction in Erk1/2 and Akt activation state. Ephrin-A1-Fc treatment delayed wound healing independently of Mek-Erk1/2 signaling but was no longer capable of restricting migration after pharmacologic blockade of the PI3K-Akt pathway. Interestingly, ephrin-A1 immunoreactivity was increased in the corneal epithelia of diabetic individuals, mice maintained on a high-fat diet, or cultured corneal epithelial cells exposed to high glucose, which exhibit impaired Akt signaling and slower wound healing responses.EphA2 attenuates corneal epithelial cell migration when stimulated by ephrin-A1 ligand in a manner that involves the suppression of Akt. Elevated levels of ephrin-A1 may contribute to diabetic keratopathies by persistently engaging EphA2 and prohibiting Akt-dependent corneal epithelial repair processes.
Project description:Juxtacrine signaling interactions between the EphA2 receptor tyrosine kinase and its ephrin-A1 ligand contribute to healthy tissue maintenance and misregulation of this system is observed in at least 40% of human breast cancer. Hybrid live cell-supported membrane experiments in which membrane-linked ephrin-A1 displayed in supported membranes interacts with EphA2 in living cells have revealed large scale clustering of EphA2/ephrin-A1 complexes as well as their lateral transport across the cell surface during triggering. Here, we utilize 100 nm spaced hexagonally ordered arrays of gold nanodots embedded within supported membranes to present defined obstacles to the movement and assembly of EphA2 clusters. By functionalizing both the supported membrane and the nanodots with ephrin-A1, we perform a type of affinity chromatography on EphA2 signaling clusters in live cell membranes. Analysis of 10 different breast cancer cell lines reveals that EphA2 transport is most frustrated by nanodot arrays in the most diseased cell lines. These observations suggest that strong physical association among EphA2 receptors, as well as their assembly into larger clusters, correlates with and may contribute to the pathological misregulation of the EphA2/ephrin-A1 pathway in breast cancer.
Project description:Ephrin receptors (Ephs) are reported to control metastatic signaling of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and other tumors. Here we show for the first time that blocking expression of the Eph ligand Ephrin B3 inhibits NSCLC cell migration and invasion. We demonstrate that Ephrin B3 directly binds the EphAs EphA2, EphA3, EphA4, and EphA5. EphA2 Ser897 was previously shown to drive migration propensity of tumor cells and our study reveals that EphA2 stays phosphorylated on Ser897 in the Ephrin B3/EphA2 complex in NSCLC cells of different histology. Moreover, we report that within such Ephrin B3/EphA2 complex both Akt Ser 129 and p38MAPK are found indicating a potential to drive migration/proliferation. We also found the EMT marker E-cadherin expression to be maintained or increased upon Ephrin B3 blockade in NSCLC cells. Expression of Ephrin B3 was furthermore analyzed in a cohort of NSCLC stage IA-IB cases (n=200) alongside EphA2 and Ephrin A1. We found that Ephrin B3 was concomitantly expressed with EphA2 and Ephrin A1 with higher Ephrin B3 levels found in non-squamous than in squamous tumors, whereas EphA2 was higher expressed in well-differentiated than in low-differentiated tumors. In the entire NSCLC cohort, Ephrin B3 expression was not linked to patient survival, whereas a high EphA2 expression was associated with improved survival (p=0.03). In conclusion, we show that blocking Ephrin B3 expression inhibits NSCLC proliferation-, migration- and invasion capacity which calls for further studies on interference with Ephrin B3 as a possible therapeutic avenue in this tumor malignancy.