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Introduction to Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Vertebrate Development 

Introduction to Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Vertebrate Development
Introduction to Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Vertebrate Development

Audrey K. O’Neill

and Jeffrey O. Bush

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date: 27 February 2021

Ephs and ephrins are bidirectional signaling molecules with numerous roles in development. This chapter provides an overview of Eph/ephrin signaling mechanisms and prominent developmental roles for this large signaling family. Eph-ephrin binding can cause “forward” signaling through Eph receptors and “reverse” signaling through ephrin ligands. The Ephs are receptor tyrosine kinases, and forward signaling can influence multiple cellular behaviors, including cytoskeletal and adhesive changes through a variety of pathways. Eph/ephrin signaling often leads to cell-cell repulsion; in vivo, this can lead to cell sorting and boundary formation. Ephs and ephrins also participate in axon and cell guidance, and are important for midline axon crossing, formation of retinal maps, migration of the neural crest, and in numerous other contexts. Eph/ephrins play critical roles in vascular development, both by mediating sprouting angiogenesis and by specifying arterial versus venous fate. Eph/ephrin mutation or dysfunction causes developmental abnormalities and can lead to tumorigenesis.

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