Phosphoproteomic Profiling of NSCLC Cells Reveals that Ephrin B3 Regulates Pro-survival Signaling through Akt1-Mediated Phosphorylation of the EphA2 Receptor

The ephrin and Eph signaling circuit has been reported as deregulated in a number of tumor types including nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here we show that suppression of the ephrin-familly member ephrin B3 decreases NSCLC cell proliferation and has profound effects on cell morphology. To reveal which signaling networks ephrin B3 utilize to regulate such effects on growth and morphology, differential regulation of phosphorylated proteins was analyzed in the NSCLC cell line U-1810. Using strong cat ion exchange (SCX) and TiO<sub>2</sub>-based fractionation followed by nano-LC and mass spectrometry analysis, we identified 1083 unique phosphorylated proteins. Out of these, 150 proteins were found only when ephrin B3 is expressed, whereas 66 proteins were found exclusively in U-1810 cells with silenced ephrin B3. Network analysis of changes in the phosphoproteome with regard to the presence or absence of ephrin B3 expression generated a hypothesis that the site specific phosphorylation on Ser-897 detected on the erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular receptor tyrosine kinase class A2 (EphA2) is critical for the survival of NSCLC cells. Upstream of the EphA2 phosphorylation, activation of Akt1 on Ser 129 was also revealed as part of the ephrin B3-mediated signaling pathway. Phosphorylation of these sites was further confirmed by immune-based strategies in combination with mass spectrometry. Moreover, by further stepwise pathway walking, annotating the phosphorylated sites and their corresponding kinases upstream, our data support the process in which a Heat shock protein 90 isoform (HSP90AA1) acts as a protector of EphA2, thereby saving it from degradation. In addition, protein kinase CK2 (CK2) is suggested as a dominant kinase, activating downstream substrates to generate the effects on NSCLC proliferation and morphology.