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1.  Spinal ephrinB/EphB signalling contributed to remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia via NMDA receptor 
One of the major unresolved issues in treating pain is the paradoxical hyperalgesia produced by opiates, and accumulating evidence implicate that EphBs receptors and ephrinBs ligands are involved in mediation of spinal nociceptive information and central sensitization, but the manner in which ephrinB/EphB signalling acts on spinal nociceptive information networks to produce hyperalgesia remains enigmatic. The objective of this research was to investigate the role of ephrinB/EphB signalling in remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia (RIH) and its downstream effector.
We characterized the remifentanil-induced pain behaviours by evaluating thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in a rat hind paw incisional model. Protein expression of EphB1 receptor and ephrinB1 ligand in spinal dorsal horn cord was determined by Western blotting, and Fos was determined by immunohistochemistry assay, respectively. To figure out the manner in which ephrinB/EphB signalling acts with N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor, we used MK-801, an antagonist of NMDA receptor, trying to suppressed the hyperalgesia induced by ephrinB1-Fc, an agonist of ephrinB/EphB.
Continuing infusion of remifentanil produced a thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia, which was accompanied with increased protein expression of spinal-level EphB1 receptor, ephrinB1 ligand and Fos; what appeared above was suppressed by pretreatment with EphB1-Fc, an antagonist of ephrinB/EphB or MK-801, and increased pain behaviours induced by intrathecal injection of ephrinB1-Fc, an agonist of ephrinB/EphB, were suppressed by MK-801.
Our findings indicated that ephrinB/EphB signalling is involved in RIH. EphrinB/EphB signalling might be the upstream of NMDA receptor.
What's already known about this topic?
EphBs receptors and ephrinBs ligands are involved in mediation of spinal nociceptive information and central sensitization.
The combination of EphB receptor and N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor induces long-term potentiation that is critical for causing excitation of spinal neuron and pain hyperalgesia.
What does this study add?
EphrinB/EphB signalling is involved in remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia (RIH).
EphrinB/EphB signalling might be the upstream of N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor in RIH.
PMCID: PMC4232047  PMID: 24737575
2.  EphrinB2 induces tyrosine phosphorylation of NR2B via Src-family kinases during inflammatory hyperalgesia 
Neuroscience  2008;156(1):175-183.
In recent years a role for EphB receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrinB ligands in activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the CNS has been identified. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that EphB receptor activation in the adult rat spinal cord is involved in synaptic plasticity and processing of nociceptive inputs, through modulation of the function of the glutamate ionotropic receptor NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate). In particular, EphB receptor activation would induce phosphorylation of the NR2B subunit of the NMDA receptor by a Src family non-receptor tyrosine kinase. Intrathecal administration of ephrinB2-Fc in adult rats, which can bind to and activate EphB receptors and induce behavioral thermal hyperalgesia, led to NR2B tyrosine phosphorylation, which could be blocked by the Src family kinase inhibitor PP2. Furthermore animals pre-treated with PP2 did not develop behavioral thermal hyperalgesia following EphrinB2-Fc administration, suggesting that this pathway is functionally significant. Indeed, EphB1-Fc administration, which competes with the endogenous receptor for ephrinB2 binding and prevents behavioral allodynia and hyperalgesia in the carrageenan model of inflammation, also inhibited NR2B phosphorylation in this model. Taken together these findings support the hypothesis that EphB–ephrinB interactions play an important role in NMDA-dependent, activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the adult spinal cord, inducing the phosphorylation of the NR2B subunit of the receptor via Src family kinases, thus contributing to chronic pain states.
PMCID: PMC2568875  PMID: 18694808
EphB receptor; pain; plasticity; NMDA; Src; rat; CaMKII, calcium-calmodulin kinase II; LTP, long-term potentiation; NMDA, N-methyl-D-aspartate; PP2, 4-amino-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-7-(t-butyl)pyrazolo[3,4-d]pyrimidine; pY-NR2B, NR2B phosphorylated in tyrosine; SDS, sodium dodecyl sulfate; TBST, TBS containing 0.1% Tween-20
3.  Nociceptor-expressed ephrin-B2 regulates inflammatory and neuropathic pain 
Molecular Pain  2010;6:77.
EphB receptors and their ephrin-B ligands play an important role in nervous system development, as well as synapse formation and plasticity in the adult brain. Recent studies show that intrathecal treatment with EphB-receptor activator ephrinB2-Fc induced thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in rat, indicating that ephrin-B2 in small dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons and EphB receptors in the spinal cord modulate pain processing. To examine the role of ephrin-B2 in peripheral pain pathways, we deleted ephrin-B2 in Nav1.8+ nociceptive sensory neurons with the Cre-loxP system. Sensory neuron numbers and terminals were examined using neuronal makers. Pain behavior in acute, inflammatory and neuropathic pain models was assessed in the ephrin-B2 conditional knockout (CKO) mice. We also investigated the c-Fos expression and NMDA receptor NR2B phosphorylation in ephrin-B2 CKO mice and littermate controls.
The ephrin-B2 CKO mice were healthy with no sensory neuron loss. However, pain-related behavior was substantially altered. Although acute pain behavior and motor co-ordination were normal, inflammatory pain was attenuated in ephrin-B2 mutant mice. Complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA)-induced mechanical hyperalgesia was halved. Formalin-induced pain behavior was attenuated in the second phase, and this correlated with diminished tyrosine phosphorylation of N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor subunit NR2B in the dorsal horn. Thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia were significantly reduced in the Seltzer model of neuropathic pain.
Presynaptic ephrin-B2 expression thus plays an important role in regulating inflammatory pain through the regulation of synaptic plasticity in the dorsal horn and is also involved in the pathogenesis of some types of neuropathic pain.
PMCID: PMC2992507  PMID: 21059214
4.  EphB3 Inhibits the Expansion of Neural Progenitor Cells in the SVZ by Regulating p53 During Homeostasis and Following Traumatic Brain Injury 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2010;28(7):1231-1242.
Ephrins and Eph receptor(s) have recently been implicated in regulating neurogenesis in the adult subventricular zone (SVZ) and rostral migratory stream (RMS). Here, we examined the role of ephrinB3-EphB3 signaling in mediating the SVZ response to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Analysis of EphB3 expression showed co-localization with glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP)-positive neural stem progenitor cells (NSPCs) and doublecortin-positive neuroblasts, while ephrinB3 was expressed outside the neurogenic region. TBI resulted in a significant reduction in EphB3 expression, which coincided with enhanced NSPC survival and proliferation at 3 and 7 days post-injury. Analysis of mice lacking either ephrinB3 (ephrinB3−/−) or EphB3 (EphB3−/−) showed a significant increase in bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation and Ki67 immunoreactivity in the SVZ. Interestingly, cell death was dissimilar between knockout mice, where cell death was reduced in EphB3−/− but increased in ephrinB3−/− mice. Lateral ventricle infusion of soluble pre-clustered ephrinB3-Fc reversed the proliferative and cell death defects in ephrinB3−/− but not EphB3−/− mice and prevented TBI-induced proliferation in wild type NSPCs. Coincidently, tumor suppressor p53 expression was increased following EphB3 stimulation and is reduced in the absence of either EphB3 or ephrinB3. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition and siRNA knockdown of p53 attenuated ephrinB3-Fc mediated growth suppression while having no effect on cell death in cultured NSPCs. These data demonstrate that EphB3 signaling suppresses NSPC proliferation in a p53-dependent manner, induces cell death in the absence of ligand stimulation and is transiently reduced in the SVZ to initiate the expansion and survival of endogenous adult NSPCs following TBI.
PMCID: PMC2967180  PMID: 20496368
traumatic brain injury; ephrin; Eph; subventricular zone; p53
5.  Targeted mutation of EphB1 receptor prevents development of neuropathic hyperalgesia and physical dependence on morphine in mice 
Molecular Pain  2008;4:60.
EphB receptor tyrosine kinases, which play important roles in synaptic connection and plasticity during development and in matured nervous system, have recently been implicated in processing of pain after nerve injury and morphine dependence. Subtypes of the EphB receptors that may contribute to the neuropathic pain and morphine dependence have not been identified. Here we demonstrate that the subtype EphB1 receptor is necessary for development of neuropathic pain and physical dependence on morphine. The results showed that peripheral nerve injury produced thermal hyperalgesia in wild-type (EphB1+/+) control littermate mice, but not in EphB1 receptor homozygous knockout (EphB1-/-) and heterozygous knockdown (EphB1+/-) mice. Hyperalgesia in the wild-type mice was inhibited by intrathecal administration of an EphB receptor blocking reagent EphB2-Fc (2 μg). Intrathecal administration of an EphB receptor activator ephrinB1-Fc (1 μg) evoked thermal hyperalgesia in EphB1+/+, but not EphB1-/- and EphB1+/- mice. Cellularly, nerve injury-induced hyperexcitability of the medium-sized dorsal root ganglion neurons was prevented in EphB1-/- and EphB1+/- mice. In chronically morphine-treated mice, most of the behavioral signs and the overall score of naloxone-precipitated withdrawal were largely diminished in EphB1-/- mice compared to those in the wild-type. These findings indicate that the EphB1 receptor is necessary for development of neuropathic pain and physical dependence on morphine and suggest that the EphB1 receptor is a potential target for preventing, minimizing, or reversing the development of neuropathic pain and opiate dependence.
PMCID: PMC2605438  PMID: 19025592
6.  Soluble EphB4 Inhibition of PDGF-Induced RPE Migration In Vitro 
EphB4 receptor and its ligand, EphrinB2, have been shown to be important regulators of cell adhesion and migration. Although the critical role of this system has been explored in neurobiology and vascular biology, little is known about its role in epithelial biology and especially in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Here the authors show a novel mechanism by which soluble EphB4 modulates the migration of RPE cells mediated by platelet-derived growth factor. These results are relevant to human disorders involving RPE migration, such as proliferative vitreoretinopathy.
EphB4 receptor (EphB4) and its ligand (EphrinB2) play an important role in the regulation of cell adhesion, growth, and migration. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of EphB4 blockade by soluble EphB4 (sEphB4) on retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell migration and proliferation, induced by platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF), and to establish its relevance to proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR)
The expression of EphB4 and EphrinB2 in early-passage human RPE cells and in human PVR membranes was evaluated by confocal microscopy. The effect of sEphB4 (0.1–3 μg/mL) on PDGF (20 ng/mL)-induced RPE migration and proliferation was evaluated using a modified Boyden chamber assay and an MTT assay, respectively. Attachment to basement membrane matrix and fibronectin was assayed by MTT. Phosphorylation of FAK and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in retinal pigment epithelium was determined by Western blot analysis after exposure to sEphB4. The effect of sEphB4 on the phosphorylation of EphB4/EphrinB2 was demonstrated with the use of immunoprecipitation assays
EphrinB2 and EphB4 were expressed on human RPE cells in vitro and in cells within human PVR membranes. sEphB4 blocked EphB4 and EphrinB2 phosphorylation in RPE cells in vitro. sEphB4 reduced RPE migration in response to PDGF stimulation (P < 0.01). Similarly, sEphB4 inhibited RPE attachment and proliferation in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05). PDGF-induced phosphorylation of FAK and MAPK was inhibited by sEphB4
EphB4 and EphrinB2 are expressed in RPE cells and PVR membranes. sEphB4 inhibits PDGF-induced RPE cell attachment, proliferation, and migration. This effect may result from the inhibition of FAK and MAPK phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC2828363  PMID: 19696168
7.  Attenuation of EphrinB2 Reverse Signaling Decreases Vascularized Area and Preretinal Vascular Tuft Formation in the Murine Model of Oxygen-Induced Retinopathy 
EphB4 and ephrinB2 are known key regulators of retinal vascular development, but due to their capacity for bidirectional signaling, delineation of their individual roles in this process remains unclear. To better dissect out individual contributions, a model of proliferative retinopathy in mice with attenuated ephrinB2 reverse signaling was studied. It was hypothesized that endothelial ephrinB2 reverse signaling regulates hypoxia-induced capillary sprouting, as well as the pathologic formation of neovascular tufts in postnatal retinal microvascular networks.
Genetically manipulated mice with attenuated ephrinB2 reverse signaling (ephrinB2lacZ/+), along with wild-type (WT) controls, were exposed to oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR), a postnatal model of proliferative retinopathy. At peak disease (postnatal day 18), microvascular networks were analyzed to examine intraretinal revascularization, capillary sprouting, and pathologic neovascularization responses. EphB4 and phosphorylated ephrinB protein expression patterns along retinal microvessels were also assessed.
EphrinB2lacZ/+ mice exhibited reduced hypoxia-induced revascularization (P ≤ 0.04) and reduced formation of neovascular tufts (P < 0.001), as compared with WT controls. Corresponding to the observed inhibition of retinal angiogenesis, ephrinB2lacZ/+ retinas displayed an increased number of blind-ended capillary sprout tips (P < 0.02) and endothelial filopodial processes (P = 0.001). In WT and ephrinB2lacZ/+ OIR-exposed retinas, ephrinB was confined to endothelial cells, with expression detected along angiogenic vascular processes including neovascular tufts and blind-ended capillary sprouts.
EphrinB2 reverse signaling is a regulator of key processes during retinal vascularization and controls pathologic retinal angiogenesis through direct effects on capillary sprouting and endothelial filopodia formation.
We have uncovered a novel role for ephrinB2 reverse signaling in modulating pathologic (hyperoxia induced) retinal angiogenesis using genetically manipulated mice with attenuated ephrinB2 reverse signaling.
PMCID: PMC3948501  PMID: 22789927
8.  An in vivo mouse model of long-term potentiation at synapses between primary afferent C-fibers and spinal dorsal horn neurons: essential role of EphB1 receptor 
Molecular Pain  2009;5:29.
Long-term potentiation (LTP), a much studied cellular model of synaptic plasticity, has not been demonstrated at synapses between primary afferent C-fibers and spinal dorsal horn (DH) neurons in mice in vivo. EphrinB-EphB receptor signaling plays important roles in synaptic connection and plasticity in the nervous system, but its role in spinal synaptic plasticity remains unclear.
This study characterizes properties of LTP at synapses of C-fibers onto neurons in the superficial DH following high-frequency stimulation (HFS) of a peripheral nerve at an intensity that activates C-fibers and examines associated activation of Ca2+/calmodulin-activated protein kinase II (p-CaMKII), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (p-ERK) and the cyclic AMP response element binding protein (p-CREB) and expression of c-Fos, and it investigates further roles for the EphB1 receptor in LTP. HFS induced LTP within 5 min and lasts for 3–8 h during the period of recording and resulted in upregulation of p-CaMKII, p-ERK and p-CREB protein levels in the spinal cord and expression of c-Fos in DH. Intrathecal pretreatment of MK-801 or EphB2-Fc prevented LTP and significantly reduced upregulation of p-CaMKII, p-ERK, p-CREB and c-Fos. Further, targeted mutation of EphB1 receptor prevented induction of LTP and associated increases in phosphorylation of CaMKII, ERK, and CREB.
This study provides an in vivo mouse model of LTP at synapses of C-fibers onto the superficial DH neurons that will be valuable for studying the DH neuron excitability and their synaptic plasticity and hyperalgesia. It further takes advantage of examining functional implications of a specific gene targeted mice and demonstrates that the EphB1 receptor is essential for development of LTP.
PMCID: PMC2704201  PMID: 19523204
9.  Expression of ephrinB1 and its receptor in glaucomatous optic neuropathy 
The British Journal of Ophthalmology  2007;91(9):1219-1224.
To determine ephrinB1, ephrinB2 and EphB1 expression in the optic nerve head (ONH) and retina of monkeys with glaucoma and in human ONH astrocytes.
Using immunohistochemistry, the localisation of ephrinB1, ephrinB2 and EphB1 was determined in the ONH and retina bilaterally in monkeys with monocular laser‐induced glaucoma. RT‐PCR, western blot and immunocytochemistry were used to study ephrinB1, ephrinB2 and EphB1 expression in cultured human ONH astrocytes from donors with and without glaucoma.
There was an increase in ephrinB1 and EphB1 expression in mild to moderate glaucoma. In the ONH, both ephrinB1 and EphB1 were localised to astrocytes and EphB1 was also localised to lamina cribrosa cells and perivascular cells. In the retina, ephrinB1 localised to Muller cells and astrocytes, and EphB1 was found in retinal ganglion cells. In ONH astrocytes in humans with glaucoma, ephrinB1 and EphB1 were up‐regulated but barely present in donors without glaucoma.
Ephrins are activated in early and moderate glaucoma in the ONH and retina. We postulate that the up‐regulation of Eph/ephrin pathway may play a protective role by limiting axonal damage and inflammatory cell invasion. Loss of ephrin signalling in advanced glaucoma may explain macrophage activation.
PMCID: PMC1954885  PMID: 17301119
10.  Bone cell interactions through Eph/ephrin 
Cell Adhesion & Migration  2012;6(2):148-156.
Bones cannot properly form or be maintained without cell-cell interactions through ephrin ligands and Eph receptors. Cell culture analysis and evaluation of genetic mouse models and human diseases reveal various ephrins and Eph functions in the skeletal system. Migration, attachment and spreading of mesenchymal stem cells are regulated by ephrinB ligands and EphB receptors. ephrinB1 loss-of-function is associated with craniofrontonasal syndrome (CFNS) in humans and mice. In bone remodeling, ephrinB2 is postulated to act as a “coupling stimulator.” In that case, bidirectional signaling between osteoclastic ephrinB2 and osteoblastic EphB4 suppresses osteoclastic bone resorption and enhances osteoblastic bone formation, facilitating the transition between these two states. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) induces ephrinB2 in osteoblasts and enhances osteoblastic bone formation. In contrast to ephrinB2, ephrinA2 acts as a “coupling inhibitor,” since ephrinA2 reverse signaling into osteoclasts enhances osteoclastogenesis and EphA2 forward signaling into osteoblasts suppresses osteoblastic bone formation and mineralization. Furthermore, ephrins and Ephs likely modulate pathological conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple myeloma and osteosarcoma. This review focuses on ephrin/Eph-mediated cell-cell interactions in bone biology.
PMCID: PMC3499314  PMID: 22660185
chondrocyte; osteoclast; osteoblast; coupling factor; coupling inhibitor; cell-cell interaction; osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; multiple myeloma; osteosarcoma
11.  EphrinB3 blocks EphB3 dependence receptor functions to prevent cell death following traumatic brain injury 
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(5):e1207-.
Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their membrane-bound ligands, ephrins, have a variety of roles in the developing and adult central nervous system that require direct cell–cell interactions; including regulating axon path finding, cell proliferation, migration and synaptic plasticity. Recently, we identified a novel pro-survival role for ephrins in the adult subventricular zone, where ephrinB3 blocks Eph-mediated cell death during adult neurogenesis. Here, we examined whether EphB3 mediates cell death in the adult forebrain following traumatic brain injury and whether ephrinB3 infusion could limit this effect. We show that EphB3 co-labels with microtubule-associated protein 2-positive neurons in the adult cortex and is closely associated with ephrinB3 ligand, which is reduced following controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury. In the complete absence of EphB3 (EphB3−/−), we observed reduced terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL), and functional improvements in motor deficits after CCI injury as compared with wild-type and ephrinB3−/− mice. We also demonstrated that EphB3 exhibits dependence receptor characteristics as it is cleaved by caspases and induces cell death, which is not observed in the presence of ephrinB3. Following trauma, infusion of pre-clustered ephrinB3-Fc molecules (eB3-Fc) into the contralateral ventricle reduced cortical infarct volume and TUNEL staining in the cortex, dentate gyrus and CA3 hippocampus of wild-type and ephrinB3−/− mice, but not EphB3−/− mice. Similarly, application of eB3-Fc improved motor functions after CCI injury. We conclude that EphB3 mediates cell death in the adult cortex through a novel dependence receptor-mediated cell death mechanism in the injured adult cortex and is attenuated following ephrinB3 stimulation.
PMCID: PMC4047907  PMID: 24810043
ephrins; Eph receptors; controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury; traumatic brain injury (TBI)
12.  Soluble EphB4 inhibits PDGF-induced RPE migration in vitro 
EphB4 receptor (EphB4) and its ligand (EphrinB2) play an important role in the regulation of cell adhesion, growth and migration. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of EphB4 blockade by soluble EphB4 (sEphB4) on retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell migration and proliferation, induced by platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF), and establish its relevance to proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR).
The expression of EphB4 and EphrinB2 in early passage human RPE cells and in human PVR membranes was evaluated by confocal microscopy. The effect of sEphB4 (0.1–3 ug/ml) on PDGF (20 ng/ml)-induced RPE migration and proliferation was evaluated using a modified Boyden chamber assay, and MTT assay, respectively. Attachment onto basement membrane matrix and fibronectin was assayed by MTT. Phosphorylation of FAK and p42/44 MAP Kinase in RPE was determined by Western blot after exposure to sEphB4. The effect of sEphB4 on phosphorylation of EphB4/EphrinB2 was demonstrated using immunoprecipitation assays.
EphrinB2 and EphB4 were expressed on human RPE cells in vitro, and in cells within human PVR membranes. sEphB4 blocked EphB4 and EphrinB2 phosphorylation in RPE cells in vitro. sEphB4 reduced RPE migration in response to PDGF stimulation (P<0.01). Similarly, sEphB4 inhibited RPE attachment and proliferation in a dose-dependent manner (P<0.05). PDGF-induced phosphorylation of FAK and MAP Kinase was inhibited by sEphB4.
EphB4 and EphrinB2 are expressed in RPE cells and PVR membranes. sEphB4 inhibits PDGF induced RPE cell attachment, proliferation and migration. This effect may result from inhibition of FAK and MAP Kinase phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC2828363  PMID: 19696168
13.  VEGF-A inhibits EphB4 and stimulates dll4 expression in adult endothelial cells 
The Journal of surgical research  2013;183(1):478-486.
During vein graft adaptation to the arterial circulation, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A expression transiently increases before becoming down-regulated; however the role of VEGF-A in venous remodeling is not clear. In addition, although VEGF-A stimulates angiogenesis and determines arterial identity in nascent arterial endothelial cells (EC), the role of VEGF-A in regulating identity in adult venous EC is also not clear.
Materials and Methods
EC, wild type (EphB4+/+) or heterozygous knockout (EphB4+/−), were stimulated with VEGF-A (0–100ng/ml) and examined with qPCR and Western blotting.
VEGF-A (100ng/ml) inhibited expression of EphB4 and stimulated expression of dll4 but did not stimulate either notch or EphrinB2 expression in adult venous EC. Pretreatment with VEGFR2 neutralizing antibody abolished VEGF-stimulated down-regulation of EphB4 but not the up-regulation of Dll4. Pretreatment with PD98059 or wortmannin showed that VEGF-A down-regulation of EphB4 and up-regulation of dll4 are MEK-ERK-dependent but PI3k-Akt-independent. Compared to VEGF-induced EphB4 down-regulation and Dll4 up-regulation in control EC, reduced EphB4 signaling in EphB4+/− EC showed even further down-regulation of EphB4 and up-regulation of dll4.
Despite the genetic programming of arterial and venous EC fate, VEGF-A can repress venous identity in adult venous EC without induction of arterial identity. These changes in adult EC in vitro recapitulate the changes in identity described during vein graft adaptation to the arterial environment in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3661748  PMID: 23394931
VEGF-A; EphB4; EphrinB2; dll4; endothelial cells
14.  Coexpression of EphB4 and ephrinB2 in tumour advancement of ovarian cancers 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;98(4):845-851.
EphB4 and ephrinB2 expressions in ovarian cancers were studied to analyse EphB4/ephrinB2 functions against clinical backgrounds. EphB4 and ephrinB2 were dominantly localised in ovarian cancer cells of all cases studied. Both the histoscores and mRNA levels of EphB4 and ephrinB2 significantly increased with clinical stages (I
PMCID: PMC2259170  PMID: 18231102
EphB4; ephrinB2; prognostic indicator; tumour advancement; ovarian cancers
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53673.
EphB receptors tyrosine kinases and ephrinB ligands were first identified as guidance molecules involved in the establishment of topographical mapping and connectivity in the nervous system during development. Later in development and into adulthood their primary role would switch from guidance to activity-dependent modulation of synaptic efficacy. In sensory systems, they play a role in both the onset of inflammatory and neuropathic pain, and in the establishment of central sensitisation, an NMDA-mediated form of synaptic plasticity thought to underlie most forms of chronic pain. We studied wild type and EphB1 knockout mice in a range of inflammatory and neuropathic pain models to determine 1), whether EphB1 expression is necessary for the onset and/or maintenance of persistent pain, regardless of origin; 2), whether in these models cellular and molecular changes, e.g. phosphorylation of the NR2B subunit of the NMDA receptor, increased c-fos expression or microglial activation, associated with the onset of pain, are affected by the lack of functional EphB1 receptors. Differences in phenotype were examined behaviourally, anatomically, biochemically and electrophysiologically. Our results establish firstly, that functional EphB1 receptors are not essential for the development of normal nociception, thermal or mechanical sensitivity. Secondly, they demonstrate a widespread involvement of EphB1 receptors in chronic pain. NR2B phosphorylation, c-fos expression and microglial activation are all reduced in EphB1 knockout mice. This last finding is intriguing, since microglial activation is supposedly triggered directly by primary afferents, therefore it was not expected to be affected. Interestingly, in some models of long-term pain (days), mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia develop both in wild type and EphB1 knockout mice, but recovery is faster in the latter, indicating that in particular models these receptors are required for the maintenance, rather than the onset of, thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity. This potentially makes them an attractive target for analgesic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3547059  PMID: 23341972
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67015.
The assembly of neuronal circuits during development requires the precise navigation of axons, which is controlled by attractive and repulsive guidance cues. In the developing spinal cord, ephrinB3 functions as a short-range repulsive cue that prevents EphA4 receptor-expressing corticospinal tract and spinal interneuron axons from crossing the midline, ensuring proper formation of locomotor circuits. Here we report that the small GTPase RhoA, a key regulator of cytoskeletal dynamics, is also required for ephrinB3/EphA4-dependent locomotor circuit formation. Deletion of RhoA from neural progenitor cells results in mice that exhibit a rabbit-like hopping gait, which phenocopies mice lacking ephrinB3 or EphA4. Consistent with this locomotor defect, we found that corticospinal tract axons and spinal interneuron projections from RhoA-deficient mice aberrantly cross the spinal cord midline. Furthermore, we determined that loss of RhoA blocks ephrinB3-induced growth cone collapse of cortical axons and disrupts ephrinB3 expression at the spinal cord midline. Collectively, our results demonstrate that RhoA is essential for the ephrinB3/EphA4-dependent assembly of cortical and spinal motor circuits that control normal locomotor behavior.
PMCID: PMC3692541  PMID: 23825607
The Journal of Cell Biology  2008;183(5):933-947.
In this study, we investigated whether the ability of Eph receptor signaling to mediate cell repulsion is antagonized by fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) activation that can promote cell invasion. We find that activation of FGFR1 in EphB2-expressing cells prevents segregation, repulsion, and collapse responses to ephrinB1 ligand. FGFR1 activation leads to increased phosphorylation of unstimulated EphB2, which we show is caused by down-regulation of the leukocyte common antigen–related tyrosine phosphatase receptor that dephosphorylates EphB2. In addition, FGFR1 signaling inhibits further phosphorylation of EphB2 upon stimulation with ephrinB1, and we show that this involves a requirement for the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. In the absence of activated FGFR1, EphB2 activates the MAPK pathway, which in turn promotes EphB2 activation in a positive feedback loop. However, after FGFR1 activation, the induction of Sprouty genes inhibits the MAPK pathway downstream of EphB2 and decreases cell repulsion and segregation. These findings reveal a novel feedback loop that promotes EphB2 activation and cell repulsion that is blocked by transcriptional targets of FGFR1.
PMCID: PMC2592822  PMID: 19047466
PLoS Pathogens  2006;2(2):e7.
EphrinB2 was recently discovered as a functional receptor for Nipah virus (NiV), a lethal emerging paramyxovirus. Ephrins constitute a class of homologous ligands for the Eph class of receptor tyrosine kinases and exhibit overlapping expression patterns. Thus, we examined whether other ephrins might serve as alternative receptors for NiV. Here, we show that of all known ephrins (ephrinA1–A5 and ephrinB1–B3), only the soluble Fc-fusion proteins of ephrinB3, in addition to ephrinB2, bound to soluble NiV attachment protein G (NiV-G). Soluble NiV-G bound to cell surface ephrinB3 and B2 with subnanomolar affinities (Kd = 0.58 nM and 0.06 nM for ephrinB3 and B2, respectively). Surface plasmon resonance analysis indicated that the relatively lower affinity of NiV-G for ephrinB3 was largely due to a faster off-rate (Koff = 1.94 × 10−3 s−1 versus 1.06 × 10−4 s−1 for ephrinB3 and B2, respectively). EphrinB3 was sufficient to allow for viral entry of both pseudotype and live NiV. Soluble ephrinB2 and B3 were able to compete for NiV-envelope-mediated viral entry on both ephrinB2- and B3-expressing cells, suggesting that NiV-G interacts with both ephrinB2 and B3 via an overlapping site. Mutational analysis indicated that the Leu–Trp residues in the solvent exposed G–H loop of ephrinB2 and B3 were critical determinants of NiV binding and entry. Indeed, replacement of the Tyr–Met residues in the homologous positions in ephrinB1 with Leu–Trp conferred NiV receptor activity to ephrinB1. Thus, ephrinB3 is a bona fide alternate receptor for NiV entry, and two residues in the G–H loop of the ephrin B-class ligands are critical determinants of NiV receptor activity.
Nipah virus is a deadly virus that can cause death in up to 70% of infected patients, mostly from fatal inflammation of the brain. Nipah virus is considered a “priority pathogen” for bioterrorism purposes, and it has the potential for widespread economic devastation as it can spread rapidly among susceptible livestock. The authors had previously identified the receptor that mediates Nipah virus entry into cells. This receptor, ephrinB2, is a critical molecule for the development of the vascular and nervous system and is highly expressed on endothelial cells and neurons, which are also the two cell types preferentially infected by Nipah virus in vivo.
EphrinB2 belongs to a large family of related molecules that are variably conserved in structure and function. Thus, the authors screened all known ephrins, and found that a closely related molecule, ephrinB3, also can function as an entry receptor for Nipah virus. In addition, the authors established that while ephrinB2 was better used than ephrinB3 as an entry receptor, the same two critical amino acids in ephrinB2 and B3 were responsible for the viral receptor activity of these molecules. The discovery of a more comprehensive set of NiV receptors will aid our understanding of the pathology underlying NiV disease.
PMCID: PMC1361355  PMID: 16477309
Journal of Dental Research  2012;91(3):268-274.
Bisphosphonates are therapeutic agents in the treatment of post-menopausal osteoporosis. Although they have been associated with delayed healing in injured tissues, inappropriate femoral fractures, and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), the pathophysiological mechanisms involved are not clear. Our hypothesis is that alendronate, a member of the N-containing bisphosphonates, indirectly inhibits osteoblast function through the coupling of osteoclasts to osteoblasts by ephrinB-EphB interaction. We found that alendronate increased gene and protein expression of ephrinB1 and EphB1, as well as B3, in femurs of adult mice injected with alendronate (10 µg/100 g/wk) for 8 weeks. Alendronate suppressed the expression of bone sialoprotein (BSP) and osteonectin in both femurs and bone marrow osteoblastic cells of mice. After elimination of pre-osteoclasts from bone marrow cells, alendronate did not affect osteoblast differentiation, indicating the need for pre-osteoclasts for alendronate’s effects. Alendronate stimulated EphB1 and EphB3 protein expression in osteoblasts, whereas it enhanced ephrinB1 protein in pre-osteoclasts. In addition, a reverse signal by ephrinB1 inhibited osteoblast differentiation and suppressed BSP gene expression. Thus, alendronate, through its direct effects on the pre-osteoclast, appears to regulate expression of ephrinB1, which regulates and acts through the EphB1, B3 receptors on the osteoblast to suppress osteoblast differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3275334  PMID: 22180568
bone biology; cell biology; gene expression; osteoblast(s); osteoclast(s); osteonecrosis
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2015;116(3):467-475.
Eph receptor (Eph)-ephrin signaling plays an important role in organ development and tissue regeneration. Bidirectional signaling of EphB4– ephrinB2 regulates cardiovascular development. To assess the role of EphB4–ephrinB2 signaling in cardiac lineage development, we utilized two GFP reporter systems in embryonic stem (ES) cells, in which the GFP transgenes were expressed in Nkx2.5+ cardiac progenitor cells and in α-MHC+ cardiomyocytes, respectively. We found that both EphB4 and ephrinB2 were expressed in Nkx2.5-GFP+ cardiac progenitor cells, but not in α-MHC-GFP+ cardiomyocytes during cardiac lineage differentiation of ES cells. An antagonist of EphB4, TNYL-RAW peptides, that block the binding of EphB4 and ephrinB2, impaired cardiac lineage development in ES cells. Inhibition of EphB4–ephrinB2 signaling at different time points during ES cell differentiation demonstrated that the interaction of EphB4 and ephrinB2 was required for the early stage of cardiac lineage development. Forced expression of human full-length EphB4 or intracellular domain-truncated EphB4 in EphB4-null ES cells was established to investigate the role of EphB4-forward signaling in ES cells. Interestingly, while full-length EphB4 was able to restore the cardiac lineage development in EphB4-null ES cells, the truncated EphB4 that lacks the intracellular domain of tyrosine kinase and PDZ motif failed to rescue the defect of cardiomyocyte development, suggesting that EphB4 intracellular domain is essential for the development of cardiomyocytes. Our study provides evidence that receptor-kinase-dependent EphB4-forward signaling plays a crucial role in the development of cardiac progenitor cells.
PMCID: PMC4452947  PMID: 25359705
The Journal of Neuroscience  2008;28(23):5910-5919.
The navigation of retinal axons to ipsilateral and contralateral targets in the brain depends on the decision to cross or avoid the midline at the optic chiasm, a critical guidance maneuver that establishes the binocular visual pathway. Previous work has identified a specific guidance receptor, EphB1, that mediates the repulsion of uncrossed axons away from its ligand, ephrinB2, at the optic chiasm midline (Williams et al., 2003), and a transcription factor Zic2, that, like EphB1, is required for formation of the ipsilateral retinal projection (Herrera et al., 2003). Although the reported similarities in localization implicated that Zic2 regulates EphB1 (Herrera et al., 2003; Williams et al., 2003; Pak et al., 2004), whether Zic2 drives expression of EphB1 protein has not been elucidated. Here we show that EphB1 protein is expressed in the growth cones of axons from ventrotemporal (VT) retina that project ipsilaterally and that repulsion by ephrinB2 is determined by the presence of this receptor on growth cones. Moreover, ectopic delivery of Zic2 into explants from non-VT retina induces expression of EphB1 mRNA and protein. The upregulated EphB1 receptor protein is localized to growth cones and is functional, because it is sufficient to change retinal ganglion cell axon behavior from extension onto, to avoidance of, ephrinB2 substrates. Our results demonstrate that Zic2 upregulates EphB1 expression and define a link between a transcription factor and expression of a guidance receptor protein essential for axon guidance at the vertebrate midline.
PMCID: PMC3844771  PMID: 18524895
retinal ganglion cell; optic chiasm; midline; ipsilateral retinal projection; guidance factor; intermediate target; axon guidance
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73000.
NrCAM (Neuron-glial related cell adhesion molecule), a member of the L1 family of cell adhesion molecules, reversibly binds ankyrin and regulates axon growth, but it has not been studied for a role in retinotopic mapping. During development of retino-collicular topography, NrCAM was expressed uniformly in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) along both mediolateral and anteroposterior retinal axes, and was localized on RGC axons within the optic tract and superior colliculus (SC). Anterograde tracing of RGC axons in NrCAM null mutant mice at P10, when the map resembles its mature form, revealed laterally displaced ectopic termination zones (eTZs) of axons from the temporal retina, indicating defective mediolateral topography, which is governed by ephrinB/EphBs. Axon tracing at P2 revealed that interstitial branch orientation of ventral-temporal RGC axons in NrCAM null mice was compromised in the medial direction, likely accounting for displacement of eTZs. A similar retinocollicular targeting defect in EphB mutant mice suggested that NrCAM and EphB interact to regulate mediolateral retino-collicular targeting. We found that EphB2 tyrosine kinase but not an EphB2 kinase dead mutant, phosphorylated NrCAM at a conserved tyrosine residue in the FIGQY ankyrin binding motif, perturbing ankyrin recruitment in NrCAM transfected HEK293 cells. Furthermore, the phosphorylation of NrCAM at FIGQY in SC was decreased in EphB1/3 and EphB1/2/3 null mice compared to WT, while phospho-FIGQY of NrCAM in SC was increased in EphB2 constitutively active (F620D/F620D) mice. These results demonstrate that NrCAM contributes to mediolateral retinocollicular axon targeting by regulating RGC branch orientation through a likely mechanism in which ephrinB/EphB phosphorylates NrCAM to modulate linkage to the actin cytoskeleton.
PMCID: PMC3759449  PMID: 24023801
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11765.
Abnormal tau hyperphosphorylation is an early pathological marker of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), however, the upstream factors that regulate tau phosphorylation are not illustrated and there is no efficient strategy to arrest tau hyperphosphorylation. Here, we find that activation of endogenous EphB2 receptor by ligand stimulation (ephrinB1/Fc) or by ectopic expression of EphB2 plus the ligand stimulation induces a remarkable tau dephosphorylation at multiple AD-associated sites in SK-N-SH cells and human embryonic kidney cells that stably express human tau (HEK293-tau). In cultured hippocampal neurons and the hippocampus of human tau transgenic mice, dephosphorylation of tau proteins was also detected by stimulation of EphB2 receptor. EphB2 activation inhibits glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), a crucial tau kinase, and activates phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt both in vitro and in vivo, whereas simultaneous inhibition of PI3K or upregulation of GSK-3β abolishes the EphB2 stimulation-induced tau dephosphorylation. Finally, we confirm that ephrinB1/Fc treatment induces tyrosine phosphorylation (activation) of EphB2, while deletion of the tyrosine kinase domain (VM) of EphB2 eliminates the receptor stimulation-induced GSK-3β inhibition and tau dephosphorylation. We conclude that activation of EphB2 receptor kinase arrests tau hyperphosphorylation through PI3K-/Akt-mediated GSK-3β inhibition. Our data provide a novel membranous target to antagonize AD-like tau pathology.
PMCID: PMC4484244  PMID: 26119563
PLoS Biology  2011;9(3):e1000597.
Tissue boundary formation in the early vertebrate embryo involves cycles of cell attachment and detachment at the boundary, and cell contact-dependent signaling by membrane-bound EphB receptors and ephrinB ligands.
The primordial organization of the metazoan body is achieved during gastrulation by the establishment of the germ layers. Adhesion differences between ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm cells could in principle be sufficient to maintain germ layer integrity and prevent intermixing. However, in organisms as diverse as fly, fish, or amphibian, the ectoderm-mesoderm boundary not only keeps these germ layers separated, but the ectoderm also serves as substratum for mesoderm migration, and the boundary must be compatible with repeated cell attachment and detachment.
Principal Findings
We show that localized detachment resulting from contact-induced signals at the boundary is at the core of ectoderm-mesoderm segregation. Cells alternate between adhesion and detachment, and detachment requires ephrinB/EphB signaling. Multiple ephrinB ligands and EphB receptors are expressed on each side of the boundary, and tissue separation depends on forward signaling across the boundary in both directions, involving partially redundant ligands and receptors and activation of Rac and RhoA.
This mechanism differs from a simple differential adhesion process of germ layer formation. Instead, it involves localized responses to signals exchanged at the tissue boundary and an attachment/detachment cycle which allows for cell migration across a cellular substratum.
Author Summary
The formation and maintenance of tissue boundaries is an essential feature of multicellular animals, including humans. Using the frog embryo as a model system, we describe a mechanism of tissue separation that involves repeated cycles of cell attachment and detachment at the boundary between two adjacent tissues. Molecularly, this mechanism is based on a signal exchange across the boundary by a system of receptors and ligands—EphB receptors and ephrinB ligands—that are both integral cell membrane proteins, and thus require direct cell contact for signaling. In this way, cell attachment-dependent contact induces signaling which leads to a temporary detachment, followed by reattachment and a next round of signaling. Such an attachment-detachment mechanism allows for cell migration along the boundary, while at the same time preventing invasion of the stationary tissue by the migrating one.
PMCID: PMC3046958  PMID: 21390298
Microvascular research  2009;77(3):382-386.
EphB4 receptors and their ephrinB2 ligands are essential for vascular development, but also play a role in pathological neovascularization (NV). We previously reported that soluble (s) forms of EphB4 and ephrinB2 significantly reduced retinal NV in a model of oxygen-induced retinopathy. This study investigates if these molecules suppress retinal NV by stimulation of endothelial cell (EC) apoptosis.
C57BL/6 mice at postnatal day 7 (P7) were exposed to 75% oxygen for 5 days (P12) and allowed to recover in room air to induce retinal NV. One eye was injected intravitreally with 150 ng in 1.5μls of sEphB4 or sEphrinB2 on P12 and P14, while contralateral eyes were injected with IgG antibody as control. Eyes were enucleated for histological analysis. At P16 TUNEL analysis and caspase-3 immunohistochemistry was performed on retinal sections to compare the apoptotic response between sEphB4 or sEphrinB2 injected eyes and controls. In vitro studies were performed with human retinal microvascular EC (HREC).
Quantification of TUNEL positive vascular cells, located in areas of retinal NV, revealed approximately 2.5-fold increase in apoptosis in sEphrinB2 injected eyes compared to control eyes. Immunohistochemistry studies revealed co-localization of both TUNEL positive cells and caspase-3 positive cells with the endothelial marker, von Willebrand factor. Cultured HREC demonstrated significantly higher caspase-3 activity after a 3 hr stimulation with sEphrinB2 ± VEGF compared to IgG control ± VEGF (p<0.005). sEphB4 stimulation had no significant effect on caspase-3 activity in HREC cultures.
These data suggest that modulation of the endogenous ephrin signaling mechanism by sEphrinB2 may induce suppression of retinal NV via induction of apoptosis. Results of the in vitro studies suggest that sEphrinB2 may directly induce apoptosis of EC during pathological neovascularization.
PMCID: PMC2679415  PMID: 19232363
Angiogenesis; Apoptosis; EphrinB2; EphB4; Neovascularization; Retinopathy of Prematurity

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