Glycoengineering of EphA4 Fc leads to a unique, long-acting and broad spectrum, Eph receptor therapeutic antagonist.
ABSTRACT: Eph receptors have emerged as targets for therapy in both neoplastic and non-neoplastic disease, however, particularly in non-neoplastic diseases, redundancy of function limits the effectiveness of targeting individual Eph proteins. We have shown previously that a soluble fusion protein, where the EphA4 ectodomain was fused to IgG Fc (EphA4 Fc), was an effective therapy in acute injuries and demonstrated that EphA4 Fc was a broad spectrum Eph/ephrin antagonist. However, a very short in vivo half-life effectively limited its therapeutic development. We report a unique glycoengineering approach to enhance the half-life of EphA4 Fc. Progressive deletion of three demonstrated N-linked sites in EphA4 progressively increased in vivo half-life such that the triple mutant protein showed dramatically improved pharmacokinetic characteristics. Importantly, protein stability, affinity for ephrin ligands and antagonism of cell expressed EphA4 was fully preserved, enabling it to be developed as a broad spectrum Eph/ephrin antagonist for use in both acute and chronic diseases.
Project description:The EphA4 receptor tyrosine kinase interacts with ephrin ligands to regulate many processes, ranging from axon guidance and nerve regeneration to cancer malignancy. Thus antagonists that inhibit ephrin binding to EphA4 could be useful for a variety of research and therapeutic applications. In the present study we characterize the binding features of three antagonistic peptides (KYL, APY and VTM) that selectively target EphA4 among the Eph receptors. Isothermal titration calorimetry analysis demonstrated that all three peptides bind to the ephrin-binding domain of EphA4 with low micromolar affinity. Furthermore, the effects of a series of EphA4 mutations suggest that the peptides interact in different ways with the ephrin-binding pocket of EphA4. Chemical-shift changes observed by NMR spectroscopy upon binding of the KYL peptide involve many EphA4 residues, consistent with extensive interactions and possibly receptor conformational changes. Additionally, systematic replacement of each of the 12 amino acids of KYL and VTM identify the residues critical for EphA4, binding. The peptides exhibit a long half-life in cell culture medium which, with their substantial binding affinity and selectivity for EphA4, makes them excellent research tools to modulate EphA4 function.
Project description:The erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular (Eph) family of receptor tyrosine kinases regulates a multitude of physiological and pathological processes. Despite the numerous possible research and therapeutic applications of agents capable of modulating Eph receptor function, no small molecule inhibitors targeting the extracellular domain of these receptors have been identified. We have performed a high throughput screen to search for small molecules that inhibit ligand binding to the extracellular domain of the EphA4 receptor. This yielded a 2,5-dimethylpyrrolyl benzoic acid derivative able to inhibit the interaction of EphA4 with a peptide ligand as well as the natural ephrin ligands. Evaluation of a series of analogs identified an isomer with similar inhibitory properties and other less potent compounds. The two isomeric compounds act as competitive inhibitors, suggesting that they target the high affinity ligand-binding pocket of EphA4 and inhibit ephrin-A5 binding to EphA4 with K(i) values of 7 and 9 mum in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Interestingly, despite the ability of each ephrin ligand to promiscuously bind many Eph receptors, the two compounds selectively target EphA4 and the closely related EphA2 receptor. The compounds also inhibit ephrin-induced phosphorylation of EphA4 and EphA2 in cells, without affecting cell viability or the phosphorylation of other receptor tyrosine kinases. Furthermore, the compounds inhibit EphA4-mediated growth cone collapse in retinal explants and EphA2-dependent retraction of the cell periphery in prostate cancer cells. These data demonstrate that the Eph receptor-ephrin interface can be targeted by inhibitory small molecules and suggest that the two compounds identified will be useful to discriminate the activities of EphA4 and EphA2 from those of other co-expressed Eph receptors that are activated by the same ephrin ligands. Furthermore, the newly identified inhibitors represent possible leads for the development of therapies to treat pathologies in which EphA4 and EphA2 are involved, including nerve injuries and cancer.
Project description:Eph receptors are widely expressed during cerebral cortical development, yet a role for Eph signaling in the generation of cells during corticogenesis has not been shown. Cortical progenitor cells selectively express one receptor, EphA4, and reducing EphA4 signaling in cultured progenitors suppressed proliferation, decreasing cell number. In vivo, EphA4(-/-) cortex had a reduced area, fewer cells and less cell division compared with control cortex. To understand the effects of EphA4 signaling in corticogenesis, EphA4-mediated signaling was selectively depressed or elevated in cortical progenitors in vivo. Compared with control cells, cells with reduced EphA4 signaling were rare and mitotically inactive. Conversely, overexpression of EphA4 maintained cells in their progenitor states at the expense of subsequent maturation, enlarging the progenitor pool. These results support a role for EphA4 in the autonomous promotion of cell proliferation during corticogenesis. Although most ephrins were undetectable in cortical progenitors, ephrin B1 was highly expressed. Our analyses demonstrate that EphA4 and ephrin B1 bind to each other, thereby initiating signaling. Furthermore, overexpression of ephrin B1 stimulated cell division of neighboring cells, supporting the hypothesis that ephrin B1-initiated forward signaling of EphA4 promotes cortical cell division.
Project description:Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrin ligands mediate cell signaling during normal and oncogenic development. Eph signaling is initiated in a multistep process leading to the assembly of higher-order Eph/ephrin clusters that set off bidirectional signaling in interacting cells. Eph and ephrins are divided in two subclasses based on their abilities to bind and activate each other and on sequence conservation. EphA4 is an exception to the general rule because it can be activated by both A- and B-class ephrin ligands. Here we present high-resolution structures of the complete EphA4 ectodomain and its complexes with ephrin-A5. The structures reveal how ligand binding promotes conformational changes in the EphA4 ligand-binding domain allowing the formation of signaling clusters at the sites of cell-cell contact. In addition, the structural data, combined with structure-based mutagenesis, reveal a previously undescribed receptor-receptor interaction between the EphA4 ligand-binding and membrane-proximal fibronectin domains, which is functionally important for efficient receptor activation.
Project description:Astrocytes are critical participants in synapse development and function, but their role in synaptic plasticity is unclear. Eph receptors and their ephrin ligands have been suggested to regulate neuron-glia interactions, and EphA4-mediated ephrin reverse signaling is required for synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. Here we show that long-term potentiation (LTP) at the CA3-CA1 synapse is modulated by EphA4 in the postsynaptic CA1 cell and by ephrin-A3, a ligand of EphA4 that is found in astrocytes. Lack of EphA4 increased the abundance of glial glutamate transporters, and ephrin-A3 modulated transporter currents in astrocytes. Pharmacological inhibition of glial glutamate transporters rescued the LTP defects in EphA4 (Epha4) and ephrin-A3 (Efna3) mutant mice. Transgenic overexpression of ephrin-A3 in astrocytes reduces glutamate transporter levels and produces focal dendritic swellings possibly caused by glutamate excitotoxicity. These results suggest that EphA4/ephrin-A3 signaling is a critical mechanism for astrocytes to regulate synaptic function and plasticity.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Development of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is initiated by the formation of postsynaptic specializations in the central zones of muscles, followed by the arrival of motor nerve terminals opposite the postsynaptic regions. The post- and presynaptic components are then stabilized and modified to form mature synapses. Roles of ADAM (A Disintegrin And Metalloprotease) family proteins in the formation of the NMJ have not been reported previously.<h4>Principal findings</h4>We report here that Meltrin beta, ADAM19, participates in the formation of the NMJ. The zone of acetylcholine receptor alpha mRNA distribution was broader and excess sprouting of motor nerve terminals was more prominent in meltrin beta-deficient than in wild-type embryonic diaphragms. A microarray analysis revealed that the preferential distribution of ephrin-A5 mRNA in the synaptic region of muscles was aberrant in the meltrin beta-deficient muscles. Excess sprouting of motor nerve terminals was also found in ephrin-A5 knockout mice, which lead us to investigate a possible link between Meltrin beta and ephrin-A5-Eph signaling in the development of the NMJ. Meltrin beta and EphA4 interacted with each other in developing motor neurons, and both of these proteins localized in the NMJ. Coexpression of Meltrin beta and EphA4 strongly blocked vesicular internalization of ephrin-A5-EphA4 complexes without requiring the protease activity of Meltrin beta, suggesting a regulatory role of Meltrin beta in ephrin-A5-Eph signaling.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Meltrin beta plays a regulatory role in formation of the NMJ. The endocytosis of ephrin-Eph complexes is required for efficient contact-dependent repulsion between ephrin and Eph. We propose that Meltrin beta stabilizes the interaction between ephrin-A5 and EphA4 by regulating endocytosis of the ephrinA5-EphA complex negatively, which would contribute to the fine-tuning of the NMJ during development.
Project description:Ephrin signaling through Eph receptor tyrosine kinases regulates important morphogenetic events during development and synaptic plasticity in the adult brain. Although Eph-ephrin endocytosis is required for repulsive axon guidance, its role in postnatal brain and synaptic plasticity is unknown. Here, we show that Rin1, a postnatal brain-specific Rab5-GEF, is coexpressed with EphA4 in excitatory neurons and interacts with EphA4 in synaptosomal fractions. The interaction of Rin1 and EphA4 requires Rin1's SH2 domain, consistent with the view that Rin1 targets tyrosine phosphorylated receptors to Rab5 compartments. We find that Rin1 mediates EphA4 endocytosis in postnatal amygdala neurons after engagement of EphA4 with its cognate ligand ephrinB3. Rin1 was shown to suppress synaptic plasticity in the amygdala, a forebrain structure important for fear learning, possibly by internalizing synaptic receptors. We find that the EphA4 receptor is required for synaptic plasticity in the amygdala, raising the possibility that an underlying mechanism of Rin1 function in amygdala is to down-regulate EphA4 signaling by promoting its endocytosis.
Project description:EphA and EphB receptors preferentially bind ephrin-A and ephrin-B ligands, respectively, but EphA4 is exceptional for its ability to bind all ephrins. Here, we report the crystal structure of the EphA4 ligand-binding domain in complex with ephrin-B2, which represents the first structure of an EphA-ephrin-B interclass complex. A loose fit of the ephrin-B2 G-H loop in the EphA4 ligand-binding channel is consistent with a relatively weak binding affinity. Additional surface contacts also exist between EphA4 residues Gln(12) and Glu(14) and ephrin-B2. Mutation of Gln(12) and Glu(14) does not cause significant structural changes in EphA4 or changes in its affinity for ephrin-A ligands. However, the EphA4 mutant has approximately 10-fold reduced affinity for ephrin-B ligands, indicating that the surface contacts are critical for interclass but not intraclass ephrin binding. Thus, EphA4 uses different strategies to bind ephrin-A or ephrin-B ligands and achieve binding promiscuity. NMR characterization also suggests that the contacts of Gln(12) and Glu(14) with ephrin-B2 induce dynamic changes throughout the whole EphA4 ligand-binding domain. Our findings shed light on the distinctive features that enable the remarkable ligand binding promiscuity of EphA4 and suggest that diverse strategies are needed to effectively disrupt different Eph-ephrin complexes.
Project description:The Eph family of receptors is the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases, but it remains poorly studied in lung cancer. We aimed to systematically explore the human Eph receptors and their ligands, the ephrins, in lung adenocarcinoma. The prognostic impact of Eph receptor and ephrin gene expression was analyzed using 2 independent cohorts of lung adenocarcinoma. Gene expression profiles in lung adenocarcinoma compared with normal adjacent lung were studied in 3 independent cohorts and in cell lines. Gene expression profiles were validated with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and Western blotting in cell lines. Functional studies to assess the role of Eph receptor A4 (EphA4) were carried out in vitro. The biological effects of EphA4 in lung cancer cell lines were assayed following overexpression and knockdown. Of the 11 Eph receptors and 8 ephrins analyzed, only EphA4 and ephrin A1 gene expression were consistently associated with an improved outcome in patients with lung adenocarcinoma. Expression levels of EphA4 by microarray correlated well with expression levels measured by qPCR and Western blotting. EphA4 overexpression reduced cell migration and invasion but did not affect cell cycle, apoptosis, or drug sensitivity. Surprisingly, EphA4 was expressed at higher levels in cancer compared with non-cancer tissues and cell lines. EphA4 gene expression is associated with an improved outcome in patients with resected lung adenocarcinoma, possibly by affecting cancer cell migration and invasion.
Project description:Upregulation and activation of developmental axon guidance molecules, such as semaphorins and members of the Eph receptor tyrosine kinase family and their ligands, the ephrins, play a role in the inhibition of axonal regeneration following injury to the central nervous system. Previously we have demonstrated in a knockout model that axonal regeneration following spinal cord injury is promoted in the absence of the axon guidance protein EphA4. Antagonism of EphA4 was therefore proposed as a potential therapy to promote recovery from spinal cord injury. To further assess this potential, two soluble recombinant blockers of EphA4, unclustered ephrin-A5-Fc and EphA4-Fc, were examined for their ability to promote axonal regeneration and to improve functional outcome following spinal cord hemisection in wildtype mice. A 2-week administration of either of these blockers following spinal cord injury was sufficient to promote substantial axonal regeneration and functional recovery by 5 weeks following injury. Both inhibitors produced a moderate reduction in astrocytic gliosis, indicating that much of the effect of the blockers may be due to promotion of axon growth. These studies provide definitive evidence that soluble inhibitors of EphA4 function offer considerable therapeutic potential for the treatment of spinal cord injury and may have broader potential for the treatment of other central nervous system injuries.