EphB2 Promotes Progression of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Mehdi Farshchian, Liisa Nissinen, Elina Siljamäki, Pilvi Riihilä, Mervi Toriseva, Atte Kivisaari, Risto Ala-Aho, Markku Kallajoki, Esko Veräjänkorva, Hanne-Kaisa Honkanen, Ritva Heljasvaara, Taina Pihlajaniemi, Reidar Grénman, Juha Peltonen, Sirkku Peltonen, Veli-Matti Kähäri
Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2015, 135 (7): 1882-1892
Keratinocyte-derived skin cancer, cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), is the most common metastatic skin cancer. We have examined the role of Eph/ephrin signaling in the progression of cSCC. Analysis of the expression of EPH and EFN families in cSCC cells and normal epidermal keratinocytes revealed overexpression of EPHB2 mRNA in cSCC cells and cSCC tumors in vivo. Tumor cell-specific overexpression of EphB2 was detected in human cSCCs and in chemically induced mouse cSCCs with immunohistochemistry, whereas the expression of EphB2 was low in premalignant lesions and normal skin. Knockdown of EphB2 expression in cSCC cells suppressed growth and vascularization of cSCC xenografts in vivo and inhibited proliferation, migration, and invasion of cSCC cells in culture. EphB2 knockdown downregulated expression of genes associated with biofunctions cell viability, migration of tumor cells, and invasion of tumor cells. Among the genes most downregulated by EphB2 knockdown were MMP1 and MMP13. Moreover, activation of EphB2 signaling by ephrin-B2-Fc enhanced production of invasion proteinases matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP13) and MMP1, and invasion of cSCC cells. These findings provide mechanistic evidence for the role of EphB2 in the early progression of cSCC to the invasive stage and identify EphB2 as a putative therapeutic target in this invasive skin cancer.

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