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Blood. 2008 Aug 1;112(3):721-32. doi: 10.1182/blood-2007-11-121681. Epub 2008 Apr 2.

Elevated protein tyrosine phosphatase activity provokes Eph/ephrin-facilitated adhesion of pre-B leukemia cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Clayton, Australia.


Signaling by Eph receptors and cell-surface ephrin ligands modulates adhesive cell properties and thereby coordinates cell movement and positioning in normal and oncogenic development. While cell contact-dependent Eph activation frequently leads to cell-cell repulsion, also the diametrically opposite response, cell-cell adhesion, is a probable outcome. However, the molecular principles regulating such disparate functions have remained controversial. We have examined cell-biologic mechanisms underlying this switch by analyzing ephrin-A5-induced cell-morphologic changes of EphA3-positive LK63 pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells. Their exposure to ephrin-A5 surfaces leads to a rapid conversion from a suspended/nonpolarized to an adherent/polarized cell type, a transition that relies on EphA3 functions operating in the absence of Eph-kinase signaling. Cell morphology change and adhesion of LK63 cells are effectively attenuated by endogenous protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) activity, whereby PTP inhibition and productive EphA3-phosphotyrosine signaling reverse the phenotype to nonadherent cells with a condensed cytoskeleton. Our findings suggest that Eph-associated PTP activities not only control receptor phosphorylation levels, but as a result switch the response to ephrin contact from repulsion to adhesion, which may play a role in the pathology of hematopoietic tumors.

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