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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2012 Feb;23(1):75-82. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2011.10.020. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

Looking forward to EphB signaling in synapses.

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Division of Biomedical Sciences and Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of California Riverside, 900 University Ave., Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


Eph receptors and their ligands ephrins comprise a complex signaling system with diverse functions that span a wide range of tissues and developmental stages. The variety of Eph receptor functions stems from their ability to mediate bidirectional signaling through trans-cellular Eph/ephrin interactions. Initially thought to act by directing repulsion between cells, Ephs have also been demonstrated to induce and maintain cell adhesive responses at excitatory synapses in the central nervous system. EphB receptors are essential to the development and maintenance of dendritic spines, which accommodate the postsynaptic sites of most glutamatergic excitatory synapses in the brain. Functions of EphB receptors are not limited to control of the actin cytoskeleton in dendritic spines, as EphB receptors are also involved in the formation of functional synaptic specializations through the regulation of glutamate receptor trafficking and functions. In addition, EphB receptors have recently been linked to the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease and neuropathic pain, thus becoming promising targets for therapeutic interventions. In this review, we discuss recent findings on EphB receptor functions in synapses, as well as the mechanisms of bidirectional trans-synaptic ephrin-B/EphB receptor signaling that shape dendritic spines and influence post-synaptic differentiation.

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