Publication date: Sep 29, 2020
The Eph (erythropoietin-producing human hepatocellular) receptors form the largest known subfamily of receptor tyrosine kinases. These receptors interact with membrane-bound ephrin ligands via direct cell-cell interactions resulting in bi-directional activation of signal pathways. Importantly, the Eph receptors play critical roles in embryonic tissue organization and homeostasis, and in the maintenance of adult processes such as long-term potentiation, angiogenesis, and stem cell differentiation. The Eph receptors also display properties of both tumor promoters and suppressors depending on the cellular context. Characterization of EphA2 receptor in regard to EphA2 dysregulation has revealed associations with various pathological processes, especially cancer. The analysis of various tumor types generally identify EphA2 receptor as overexpressed and/or mutated, and for certain types of cancers EphA2 is linked with poor prognosis and decreased patient survival. Thus, here we highlight the role of EphA2 in malignant tissues that are specific to cancer; these include glioblastoma multiforme, prostate cancer, ovarian and uterine cancers, gastric carcinoma, melanoma, and breast cancer. Due to its large extracellular domain, therapeutic targeting of EphA2 with monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), which may function as inhibitors of ligand activation or as molecular agonists, has been an oft-attempted strategy. Therefore, we review the most current mAb-based therapies against EphA2 expressing cancers currently in pre-clinical and/or clinical stages. Finally, we discuss the latest peptides and cyclical-peptides that function as selective agonists for EphA2 receptor.