The EphA2 receptor tyrosine kinase is overexpressed in a variety of human epithelial cancers and is a determinant of malignant cellular behavior in pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells. Moreover, it is expressed in tumor endothelium and its activation promotes angiogenesis. To better clarify the therapeutic potential of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) directed to the EphA2 receptor, we generated a large number of mAbs by differential screening of phage-Ab libraries by oligonucleotide microarray technology and implemented a strategy for the rapid identification of antibodies with the desired properties. We selected two high-affinity and highly specific EphA2 monoclonal antibodies with different in vitro properties on the human pancreatic tumor cell line MiaPaCa2. One is a potent EphA2-agonistic antibody, IgG25, that promotes receptor endocytosis and subsequent degradation, and the second is a ligand antagonist, IgG28, that blocks the binding to ephrin A1 and is cross-reactive with the mouse EphA2 receptor. We measured the effect of antibody treatment on the growth of MiaPaCa2 cells orthotopically transplanted in nude mice. Both IgG25 and IgG28 had strong antitumor and antimetastatic efficacy. In vivo treatment with IgG25 determined the reduction of the EphA2 protein levels in the tumor and the phosphorylation of FAK on Tyr576 while administration of IgG28 caused a decrease in tumor vascularization as measured by immunohistochemical analysis of CD31 in tumor sections. These data show that in a pancreatic cancer model comparable therapeutic efficacy is obtained either by promoting receptor degradation or by blocking receptor activation.
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