Eph receptors are a unique family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) that play critical roles in embryonic patterning, neuronal targeting, and vascular development during normal embryogenesis. Eph RTKs and their ligands, the ephrins, are also frequently overexpressed in a variety of cancers and tumor cell lines. In particular, one family member, EphA2, is overexpressed in breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers. Unlike traditional oncogenes that often function only in tumor cells, recent data show that Eph receptors mediate cellcell interactions both in tumor cells and in the tumor microenvironment, namely the tumor stroma and tumor vasculature. Thus, EphA2 receptors are attractive targets for drug design, as targeting these molecules could simultaneously inhibit several aspects of tumor progression. This review focuses on the multiple roles of EphA2 in cancer progression, the mechanisms by which EphA2 inhibition may halt this progression, and the pre-clinical results of EphA2 inhibition in various cancer model systems.
eph receptor tyrosine kinases, ephrin ligands, tumor progression, angiogenesis
Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, A-4323 MCN, 1161 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37232-2363, USA.