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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2012 Feb;23(1):43-50. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2012.01.001. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Concepts and consequences of Eph receptor clustering.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Wellington Road, Victoria 3800, Australia.


Polymeric receptor-ligand complexes between interacting Eph and ephrin-expressing cells are regarded as dynamic intercellular signalling scaffolds that control cell-to-cell contact: the resulting Eph-ephrin signalling clusters function as positional cues that facilitate cell navigation and tissue patterning during normal and oncogenic development. The considerable complexity of this task, coordinating a multitude of cell movements and cellular interactions, is achieved by accurate translation of spatial information from Eph and ephrin expression gradients into fine-tuned changes in cell-cell adhesion and position. Here we review emerging evidence suggesting that the required combinatorial diversity is not only achieved by the large number of possible Eph-ephrin interactions and selective use of Eph forward and ephrin reverse signals, but in particular through the composition and signal capacity of Eph-ephrin clusters, which is adjusted dynamically to reflect overall Eph and ephrin surface densities on interacting cells. Fine-tuning is provided through multi-layered cluster assembly, where homo- and heterotypic Eph and ephrin interactions define the composition - whilst intracellular signalling feedbacks determine the size and lifetime - of signalling clusters.

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