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Brain Res. 2009 Jan 9;1247:50-61. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.09.100. Epub 2008 Oct 17.

Regional and cellular distribution of ephrin-B1 in adult mouse brain.

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  • 1Istituto di Biochimica, Universit√† Politecnica delle Marche, via Ranieri 66, 60131 Ancona, Italy.


The membrane-bound proteins ephrins and their receptors, Eph receptor tyrosine kinases, are known for their key role during development of the central nervous system (CNS). Ligand/receptor interactions as a result of cell-cell contacts activate intracellular signalling pathways which mediate specific cellular responses. Activation can occur bidirectionally in both the receptor and the ligand-bearing cells. Eph receptor and ephrin families have been implicated in synaptic plasticity in the mature brain: effects include long-term potentiation/depression of excitatory transmission (LTP/LTD) and an action on the structure and number of synaptic contacts. However, due to the redundancy of binding between receptors and ligands, the role of individual proteins has not yet been completely elucidated. Ephrin-B1 has been suggested to play a role in synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, but its expression and localization at pre- or post-synaptic sites has been poorly documented, most likely due to the apparent low activity of the corresponding gene in mature brain. Here we present immunohistochemical data demonstrating a broad but highly regulated cellular distribution of ephrin-B1 in the mature mouse brain. We show that ephrin-B1 is expressed post-synaptically on dendritic spines in the cortex, supporting a role in synaptic plasticity in this region. However, the prevalent extra-synaptic distribution in regions such as the hippocampus and cerebellum suggests an additional structural role, perhaps at the neuron/glia interface.

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