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Current Medicinal Chemistry


ISSN (Print): 0929-8673
ISSN (Online): 1875-533X

Review Article

The Sam Domain of EphA2 Receptor and its Relevance to Cancer: A Novel Challenge for Drug Discovery?

Author(s): Flavia A. Mercurio and Marilisa Leone

Volume 23, Issue 42, 2016

Page: [4718 - 4734] Pages: 17

DOI: 10.2174/0929867323666161101100722

Price: $65


Background: Eph receptors play important functions in developmental processes and diseases and among them EphA2 is well known for its controversial role in cancer. Drug discovery strategies are mainly centered on EphA2 extracellular ligand-binding domain however, the receptor also contains a largely unexplored cytosolic Sam (Sterile alpha motif) domain at the C-terminus. EphA2-Sam binds the Sam domain from the lipid phosphatase Ship2 and the first Sam domain of Odin. Sam-Sam interactions may be important to regulate ligand-induced receptor endocytosis and degradation i.e., processes that could be engaged against tumor malignancy.

Methods: We critically analyzed literature related to a) Eph receptors with particular emphasis on EphA2 and its role in cancer, b) Sam domains, c) heterotypic Sam-Sam interactions involving EphA2-Sam.

Results: While literature data indicate that binding of EphA2-Sam to Ship2-Sam should largely generate pro-oncogenic effects in cancer cells, the correlation between EphA2- Sam/Odin-Sam1 complex and the disease is unclear. Recently a few linear peptides encompassing binding interfaces from either Ship2-Sam and Odin-Sam1 have been characterized but failed to efficiently block heterotypic Sam-Sam interactions involving EphA2-Sam due to the lack of a native like fold.

Conclusion: Molecule antagonists of heterotypic EphA2-Sam associations could work as potential anticancer agents or be implemented as tools to further clarify receptor functions and eventually validate its role as a novel target in the field of anti-cancer drug discovery. Due to the failure of linear peptides there is a crucial need for novel approaches, based on cyclic or helical molecules, to target Sam-Sam interfaces.

Keywords: Receptor tyrosine kinase, EphA2, Sam domain, protein-protein interactions, cancer, novel target.

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