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Mol Cell. 1999 Dec;4(6):903-13.

Multiple ephrins control cell organization in C. elegans using kinase-dependent and -independent functions of the VAB-1 Eph receptor.

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Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Eph receptor (EphR) tyrosine kinases and their ephrin ligands mediate direct cell-to-cell signaling. The C. elegans genome encodes four potential GPI-modified ephrins (EFN-1 to -4) and one EphR (VAB-1). Single and multiple ephrin mutants reveal functions for EFN-1, EFN-2, and EFN-3 in epidermal cell organization that, in aggregate, mirror those of VAB-1. Ephrin mutants have defects in head morphology and enclosure of the embryo by the epidermis and identify ephrin-EphR signaling functions involved in aligning and fusing tail and head epidermal cells, respectively. Biochemical analyses indicate that EFN-1, EFN-2, and EFN-3 jointly activate the VAB-1 tyrosine kinase in vivo. Mutant phenotypes and expression pattern analysis suggest that multiple ephrins are involved in distinct aspects of kinase-dependent and kinase-independent VAB-1 signaling required for proper cell organization during development in C. elegans.

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