Tadjuidje, E., Wang, T.S., Pandey, R.N., Sumanas, S., Lang, R.A., and Hegde, R.S. (2012) The EYA Tyrosine Phosphatase Activity Is Pro-Angiogenic and Is Inhibited by Benzbromarone. PLoS One. 7(4):e34806.
Eyes Absents (EYA) are multifunctional proteins best known for their role in organogenesis. There is accumulating evidence that overexpression of EYAs in breast and ovarian cancers, and in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, correlates with tumor growth and increased metastasis. The EYA protein is both a transcriptional activator and a tyrosine phosphatase, and the tyrosine phosphatase activity promotes single cell motility of mammary epithelial cells. Since EYAs are expressed in vascular endothelial cells and cell motility is a critical feature of angiogenesis we investigated the role of EYAs in this process. Using RNA interference techniques we show that EYA3 depletion in human umbilical vein endothelial cells inhibits transwell migration as well as Matrigel-induced tube formation. To specifically query the role of the EYA tyrosine phosphatase activity we employed a chemical biology approach. Through an experimental screen the uricosuric agents Benzbromarone and Benzarone were found to be potent EYA inhibitors, and Benzarone in particular exhibited selectivity towards EYA versus a representative classical protein tyrosine phosphatase, PTP1B. These compounds inhibit the motility of mammary epithelial cells over-expressing EYA2 as well as the motility of endothelial cells. Furthermore, they attenuate tubulogenesis in matrigel and sprouting angiogenesis in the ex vivo aortic ring assay in a dose-dependent fashion. The anti-angiogenic effect of the inhibitors was also demonstrated in vivo, as treatment of zebrafish embryos led to significant and dose-dependent defects in the developing vasculature. Taken together our results demonstrate that the EYA tyrosine phosphatase activity is pro-angiogenic and that Benzbromarone and Benzarone are attractive candidates for repurposing as drugs for the treatment of cancer metastasis, tumor angiogenesis, and vasculopathies.