PloS one

Lack of ephrin receptor A1 is a favorable independent prognostic factor in clear cell renal cell carcinoma.

PMID 25025847


The EPH receptor tyrosine kinases and their cell-bound ligands, the ephrins, have been shown to be associated with cancer development and progression. In this study, mRNA and protein expression of the receptors EPHA1 and EPHA2 as well as of their ligand EFNA1 and their prognostic relevance in clear cell renal cell carcinoma was evaluated. Gene expression was measured in 75 cryo-preserved primary tumors and matched non-malignant renal specimens by quantitative PCR. Protein expression was analyzed by immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays comprising non-malignant, primary tumors and metastatic renal tissues of 241 patients. Gene and protein expression of all three factors was altered in tumor specimens with EPHA1 and EPHA2 being generally diminished in tumors compared to normal renal tissue, whereas EFNA1 was commonly elevated. A positive EPHA1 and EPHA2 protein staining as well as a low EFNA1 protein level were significantly linked to more aggressive tumor features, but only a positive EPHA1 immunoreactivity was significantly associated with poor survival. In subgroup analyses, EPHA1 and EPHA2 protein levels were significantly higher in metastatic than in primary lesions. Patients with EPHA1/EPHA2-positive tumors or with tumors with positive EPHA1 and low EFNA1 immunoreactivity had the shortest survival rates compared to the respective other combinations. In a multivariate model, EPHA1 was an independent prognostic marker for different survival endpoints. In conclusion, an impaired EPH-ephrin signaling could contribute to the pathogenesis and progression of clear cell renal cell carcinoma.