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Exp Cell Res. 2019 Aug 1;381(1):57-65. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2019.04.040. Epub 2019 May 7.

Role of forward and reverse signaling in Eph receptor and ephrin mediated cell segregation.

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The Francis Crick Institute, London, NW1 1AT, UK.
The Francis Crick Institute, London, NW1 1AT, UK. Electronic address:


Eph receptor and ephrin signaling has a major role in segregating distinct cell populations to form sharp borders. Expression of interacting Ephs and ephrins typically occurs in complementary regions, such that polarised activation of both components occurs at the interface. Forward signaling through Eph receptors can drive cell segregation, but it is unclear whether reverse signaling through ephrins can also contribute. We have tested the role of reverse signaling, and of polarised versus non-polarised activation, in assays in which contact repulsion drives cell segregation and border sharpening. We find that polarised forward signaling drives stronger segregation than polarised reverse signaling. Nevertheless, reverse signaling contributes since bidirectional Eph and ephrin activation drives stronger segregation than unidirectional forward signaling alone. In contrast, non-polarised Eph activation drives little segregation. We propose that although polarised forward signaling is the principal driver of segregation, reverse signaling enables bidirectional repulsion which prevents mingling of each population into the other.


Border sharpening; Cell segregation; Cell signaling; Contact repulsion; Eph receptor; Ephrin

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