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Cancer Genomics Proteomics. 2011 Jul-Aug;8(4):185-93.

A paradigm shift in EPH receptor interaction: biological relevance of EPHB6 interaction with EPHA2 and EPHB2 in breast carcinoma cell lines.

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Western University of Health Sciences, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Pomona, CA 91766, USA.


EPH receptors are the largest known family of receptor tyrosine kinases characterized in humans. These proteins are involved in axon guidance, tissue organization, synaptic plasticity, vascular development and the progression of various diseases including cancer. The varied biological effects of EPH receptors are mediated in part by the expression of these proteins and their intracellular binding proteins. The ability of EPH molecules to form heterodimers within their own class has been suggested, although not exhaustively characterized. We have clarified this phenomenon by showing that EPHB6, a kinase-deficient receptor, can interact with EPHB2 in mammalian cells, and more significantly EPHB6 interacts with EPHA2. However, EPHB6 does not interact with another kinase-deficient receptor, EPHA10. The interaction between EPHB6 and EPHA2 is the first demonstration of an A-type receptor interacting with a B-type receptor. Furthermore, we correlated relative expression of EPHB6, EPHB2 and EPHA2 with non-invasive and invasive phenotypes of breast tumor cell lines. Our results indicate that tumor invasiveness-suppressing activity of EPHB6 is mediated by its ability to sequester other kinase-sufficient and oncogenic EPH receptors. These observations suggest that cellular phenotypes may, in part, be attributed to a combinatorial expression of EPH receptors and heteromeric interactions among the same class, as well as between two classes, of EPH receptors. Our results also suggest that EPHA10 may transduce signals by interacting with other kinase-sufficient receptors in a similar manner.

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