Cancer Cells Exploit the Eph-Ephrin System to Promote Invasion and Metastasis: Tales of Unwitting Partners

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Sci. Signal.  31 May 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 175, pp. pe28
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002153

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The Eph subfamily of receptor tyrosine kinases and their membrane-anchored ephrin ligands mediate cell-cell contact signaling and are versatile regulators of cell migration and tissue patterning, which are often exploited by cancer cells during tumor progression. New evidence shows that prostate cancer cells use EphA2 and EphA4 receptors and ephrin-As to mediate homotypic contact inhibition of locomotion while co-opting ephrin-B2 on stromal cells through EphB3 and EphB4 receptors to propel migration. These processes could enhance cancer cell scattering from the primary tumor mass and promote unimpeded migration and invasion through the stromal space. The results provide another example in which Eph receptors are converted into pro-oncogenic proteins, contrary to their often-described tumor suppressor roles in normal tissues.

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