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12.06.2018 | Original Article – Cancer Research | Ausgabe 9/2018

Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology 9/2018

Cancer-associated fibroblasts promote gastric tumorigenesis through EphA2 activation in a ligand-independent manner

Zeitschrift:
Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology > Ausgabe 9/2018
Autoren:
Hea Nam Hong, You Jin Won, Ju Hee Shim, Hyun Ji Kim, Seung Hee Han, Byung Sik Kim, Hee Sung Kim

Abstract

Purpose

Under physiologic conditions, the binding of erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular (Eph) A2 receptor and its ligand ephrinA1 results in decreased EphA2 level and tumor suppression. However, EphA2 and ephrinA1 are highly expressed in human cancers including gastric adenocarcinoma. In this study, we tested our hypothesis that cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) promote gastric tumorigenesis through EphA2 signaling in a ligand-independent manner.

Methods

Expression of EphA2 protein in primary tumor tissues of 91 patients who underwent curative surgery for gastric adenocarcinoma was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and western blotting. Conditioned medium of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF-CM) was used to evaluate the tumorigenic effect of CAFs on gastric cancer cell lines. Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), cell proliferation, migration, and invasion were assessed. EphrinA1-Fc ligand was used to determine the suppressor role of EphA2 receptor-ligand binding.

Results

CAF-CM-induced EMT and promoted cancer cell motility even without cell–cell interaction. Treatment with a selective EphA2 inhibitor (ALW-II-41-27) or EphA2-targeted siRNA markedly reduced CAF-CM-induced gastric tumorigenesis. EphrinA1-Fc ligand treatment showing ligand-dependent tumor suppression diminished the EphA2 expression and EMT progression. In contrast, ephrinA1-targeted siRNA did not significantly affect CAF-CM-mediated increases in EphA2 expression and EMT progression. Treatment with VEGF showed effects like CAF-CM in terms of EphA2 activation and EMT progression.

Conclusion

CAFs may contribute to gastric tumorigenesis by activating EphA2 signaling pathway in a ligand-independent manner. Our results suggest that ligand-independent activation of EphA2 was triggered by VEGF released from CAF-CM. Our result may partially explain why ligand-dependent tumor suppressor roles of EphA2 are not evident in gastric cancer despite the prominent level of ephrinA1.

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