Purpose: To comprehensively evaluate ephrin receptor B2 (EphB2) expression in normal and neoplastic tissues. EphB2 is a tyrosine kinase recently implicated in the deregulation of cell-to-cell communication in many tumors.
Experimental Design: EphB2 protein expression was analyzed by immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays that included 76 different normal tissues, >4,000 samples from 138 different cancer types, and 1,476 samples of colon cancer with clinical follow-up data.
Results: We found most prominent EphB2 expression in the intestinal epithelium (colonic crypts) with cancer of the colorectum displaying the highest EphB2 positivity of all tumors. Positivity was found in 100% of 118 colon adenomas but in 33.3% of 45 colon carcinomas. EphB2 expression was also observed in 75 tumor categories, including serous carcinoma of the endometrium (34.8%), adenocarcinoma of the esophagus (33.3%), intestinal adenocarcinoma of the stomach (30.2%), and adenocarcinoma of the small intestine (70%). The occasional finding of strong EphB2 positivity in tumors without EphB2 positivity in the corresponding normal cells [adenocarcinoma of the lung (4%) and pancreas (2.2%)] suggests that deregulation of EphB2 signaling may involve up-regulation of the protein expression. In colon carcinoma, loss of EphB2 expression was associated with advanced stage (P < 0.0001) and was an indicator of poor overall survival (P = 0.0098).
Conclusions: Our results provide an overview on the EphB2 protein expression in normal and neoplastic tissues. Deregulated EphB2 expression may play a role in several cancer types with loss of EphB2 expression serving as an indicator of the possible pathogenetic role of EphB2 signaling in the maintenance of tissue architecture of colon epithelium.