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Mech Dev. 1999 Sep;87(1-2):119-28.

Eph receptors and ephrins demarcate cerebellar lobules before and during their formation.

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Department of Physiology, University of Cambridge, Downing St., Cambridge, UK.


The formation of the ten cerebellar lobules is an unsolved problem in brain development. We report a screen for the four subfamilies of Eph receptors and their ligands (ephrins) in developing mouse cerebellum, using soluble receptor-immunoglobulin and ligand-immunoglobulin fusion proteins, and antibodies against EphA and ephrin-B proteins. Our results identify Eph receptors and ephrins as the first molecules known to demarcate individual lobules during development. Staining for ephrin-A ligands is in lobule VIII as it forms, across the whole width of the cerebellum. Staining for three EphA receptors approximately coincides with presumptive lobules VI and/or VII before and just after birth, whereas a fourth EphA receptor (EphA4, which binds ligands of both subfamilies) has more widespread expression. Staining for EphB receptors is in lobules VII, VIII, and IX. Staining for ephrin-B ligands is much weaker, becomes detectable only after birth, and does not appear to be lobule-specific. Staining for all subfamilies spreads to at least some adjacent lobules as maturation proceeds. The lobule-specific patterns appear before the lobules form, and initially extend across the width of the cerebellum, in spite of the lesser conservation of the lateral extensions of the lobules. These expression patterns define previously unknown developmental units and suggest that Eph family proteins may contribute to cerebellar morphogenesis.

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