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Cell Adh Migr. 2012 Mar-Apr;6(2):102-12. doi: 10.4161/cam.19620. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

Profiling Eph receptor expression in cells and tissues: a targeted mass spectrometry approach.

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Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.


The Eph receptor tyrosine kinase family includes many members, which are often expressed together in various combinations and can promiscuously interact with multiple ephrin ligands, generating intricate networks of intracellular signals that control physiological and pathological processes. Knowing the entire repertoire of Eph receptors and ephrins expressed in a biological sample is important when studying their biological roles. Moreover, given the correlation between Eph receptor/ephrin expression and cancer pathogenesis, their expression patterns could serve important diagnostic and prognostic purposes. However, profiling Eph receptor and ephrin expression has been challenging. Here we describe a novel and straightforward approach to catalog the Eph receptors present in cultured cells and tissues. By measuring the binding of ephrin Fc fusion proteins to Eph receptors in ELISA and pull-down assays, we determined that a mixture of four ephrins is suitable for isolating both EphA and EphB receptors in a single pull-down. We then used mass spectrometry to identify the Eph receptors present in the pull-downs and estimate their relative levels. This approach was validated in cultured human cancer cell lines, human tumor xenograft tissue grown in mice, and mouse brain tissue. The new mass spectrometry approach we have developed represents a useful tool for the identification of the spectrum of Eph receptors present in a biological sample and could also be extended to profiling ephrin expression.

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