The molecular mechanisms underlying malignancy of osteosarcoma are unknown. It has been reported that eph receptor protein tyrosine kinases and their ligands, ephrins, are associated with increased tumorigenicity in patients with breast carcinoma and melanoma. The expression and role of eph/ephrins in human osteosarcoma has not yet been characterized.
Ephrin-A1, ephrin-A3, ephrin-A4, ephrin-A5, ephrin-B1, ephrin-B2, and ephrin-B3 mRNA expression was examined by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis in nine specimens of human osteosarcoma tissue and five human osteosarcoma cell lines. Ephrin-B1 protein expression was detected immunohistochemically in human osteosarcoma tissue. Clinicopathologic correlation was made between the osteosarcoma specimens and their ephrin expression profiles.
Normal bone specimens, osteosarcoma tissue specimens, and osteosarcoma cell lines expressed a distinct mRNA profile of ephrin-A1, ephrin-A4, and ephrin-B2. A second mRNA profile that included ephrin-A3, ephrin-A5, and ephrin-B1 was expressed by a subset of tumors. The expression of ephrin-B1 was correlated with a poorer clinical prognosis. Ephrin-B1 protein was expressed by osteosarcoma cells and blood vessels.
The results of this study suggest that ephrin-B1 expressed by osteosarcoma may be a poor prognostic marker through increased tumorigenicity. Cancer 2002;95:862–9. © 2002 American Cancer Society.