Comparative 3'UTR analysis allows identification of regulatory clusters that drive Eph/ephrin expression in cancer cell lines.
ABSTRACT: Eph receptors are the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases. Together with their ligands, the ephrins, they fulfill multiple biological functions. Aberrant expression of Ephs/ephrins leading to increased Eph receptor to ephrin ligand ratios is a critical factor in tumorigenesis, indicating that tight regulation of Eph and ephrin expression is essential for normal cell behavior. The 3'-untranslated regions (3'UTRs) of transcripts play an important yet widely underappreciated role in the control of protein expression. Based on the assumption that paralogues of large gene families might exhibit a conserved organization of regulatory elements in their 3'UTRs we applied a novel bioinformatics/molecular biology approach to the 3'UTR sequences of Eph/ephrin transcripts. We identified clusters of motifs consisting of cytoplasmic polyadenylation elements (CPEs), AU-rich elements (AREs) and HuR binding sites. These clusters bind multiple RNA-stabilizing and destabilizing factors, including HuR. Surprisingly, despite its widely accepted role as an mRNA-stabilizing protein, we further show that binding of HuR to these clusters actually destabilizes Eph/ephrin transcripts in tumor cell lines. Consequently, knockdown of HuR greatly modulates expression of multiple Ephs/ephrins at both the mRNA and protein levels. Together our studies suggest that overexpression of HuR as found in many progressive tumors could be causative for disarranged Eph receptor to ephrin ligand ratios leading to a higher degree of tissue invasiveness.
Project description:The Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrin ligands direct axon pathfinding and neuronal cell migration, and mediate many other cell-cell communication events. The Ephs and ephrins both localize to the plasma membrane and, upon cell-cell contact, form extensive signaling assemblies at the contact sites. Recent structural, biochemical and cell-biological studies revealed that these assemblies are generated not only via Eph-ephrin interactions, but also via homotypic interactions between neighboring receptor molecules. In addition, Eph-Eph interactions mediate receptor pre-clustering, which ensures fast and efficient activation once ligands come into contact range. Here we summarize the current knowledge about the homotypic Eph-Eph interactions and discuss how they could modulate the initiation of Eph/ephrin signaling.
Project description:Eph receptor (Eph) and ephrin signaling regulate fundamental developmental processes through both forward and reverse signaling triggered upon cell-cell contact. In vertebrates, they are both classified into classes A and B, and some representatives have been identified in many metazoan groups, where their expression and functions have been well studied. We have extended previous phylogenetic analyses and examined the presence of Eph and ephrins in the tree of life to determine their origin and evolution. We have found that 1) premetazoan choanoflagellates may already have rudimental Eph/ephrin signaling as they have an Eph-/ephrin-like pair and homologs of downstream-signaling genes; 2) both forward- and reverse-downstream signaling might already occur in Porifera since sponges have most genes involved in these types of signaling; 3) the nonvertebrate metazoan Eph is a type-B receptor that can bind ephrins regardless of their membrane-anchoring structure, glycosylphosphatidylinositol, or transmembrane; 4) Eph/ephrin cross-class binding is specific to Gnathostomata; and 5) kinase-dead Eph receptors can be traced back to Gnathostomata. We conclude that Eph/ephrin signaling is of older origin than previously believed. We also examined the presence of protein domains associated with functional characteristics and the appearance and conservation of downstream-signaling pathways to understand the original and derived functions of Ephs and ephrins. We find that the evolutionary history of these gene families points to an ancestral function in cell-cell interactions that could contribute to the emergence of multicellularity and, in particular, to the required segregation of cell populations.
Project description:Proteases regulate a myriad of cell functions, both in normal and disease states. In addition to protein turnover, they regulate a range of signaling processes, including those mediated by Eph receptors and their ephrin ligands. A variety of proteases is reported to directly cleave Ephs and/or ephrins under different conditions, to promote receptor and/or ligand shedding, and regulate receptor/ligand internalisation and signaling. They also cleave other adhesion proteins in response to Eph-ephrin interactions, to indirectly facilitate Eph-mediated functions. Proteases thus contribute to Eph/ephrin mediated changes in cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions, in cell morphology and in cell migration and invasion, in a manner which appears to be tightly regulated by, and co-ordinated with, Eph signaling. This review summarizes the current literature describing the function and regulation of protease activities during Eph/ephrin-mediated cell signaling.
Project description:Eph receptor tyrosine kinases EphB2 and EphB3, and ephrin-B1 ligand play a critical role in regulating small intestinal epithelial cell migration. Although well studied in developing brain, the expression pattern of Ephs/ephrins has not been delineated in the developing small intestine.To examine the gene expression of all known members of Ephs/ephrins during development of mouse small intestine.We examined the expression of 21 A- and B-Ephs/ephrins in mouse small intestine or the Caco-2 cell line using reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), quantitative (q)RT-PCR, and immunohistochemical analyses. EphB2-expressing cells from isolated crypts were detected by immunofluorescence and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analyses.With the exception of EphA5, all family members were expressed throughout the intestine at all ages examined. Most were uniformly expressed. In contrast, levels of EphA4, EphA8, EphB4, and ephrin-B2 messenger RNA (mRNA) were highest during early fetal development and declined with age. At E15, EphB2 and EphB4 proteins were diffusely expressed in proliferating stratified intestinal epithelial cells. By E18, the proteins had become localized to cell membranes of columnar epithelial cells within intervillus regions, and later were expressed on epithelial cell membranes in adult crypts. EphB2-expressing cells can be specifically isolated from crypt cell fractions.The current study represents the first analysis of Ephs/ephrins during intestinal development. The elevated expression of EphA4, EphA8, EphB4, and ephrin-B2 during the fetal period of intestinal morphogenesis suggests an important role in development. Continued intestinal expression of other family members implicates a role in differentiation.
Project description: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.
Project description:The cellular release of membranous vesicles known as extracellular vesicles (EVs) or exosomes represents a novel mode of intercellular communication. Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their membrane-tethered ephrin ligands have very important roles in such biologically diverse processes as neuronal development, plasticity, and pathological diseases. Until now, it was thought that ephrin-Eph signaling requires direct cell contact. Although the biological functions of ephrin-Eph signaling are well understood, our mechanistic understanding remains modest. Here we report the release of EVs containing Ephs and ephrins by different cell types, a process requiring endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) activity and regulated by neuronal activity. Treatment of cells with purified EphB2(+) EVs induces ephrinB1 reverse signaling and causes neuronal axon repulsion. These results indicate a novel mechanism of ephrin-Eph signaling independent of direct cell contact and proteolytic cleavage and suggest the participation of EphB2(+) EVs in neural development and synapse physiology.
Project description:Ephrins and Eph receptors are involved in the establishment of vertebrate tissue boundaries. The complexity of the system is puzzling, however in many instances, tissues express multiple ephrins and Ephs on both sides of the boundary, a situation that should in principle cause repulsion between cells within each tissue. Although co-expression of ephrins and Eph receptors is widespread in embryonic tissues, neurons, and cancer cells, it is still unresolved how the respective signals are integrated into a coherent output. We present a simple explanation for the confinement of repulsion to the tissue interface: Using the dorsal ectoderm-mesoderm boundary of the Xenopus embryo as a model, we identify selective functional interactions between ephrin-Eph pairs that are expressed in partial complementary patterns. The combined repulsive signals add up to be strongest across the boundary, where they reach sufficient intensity to trigger cell detachments. The process can be largely explained using a simple model based exclusively on relative ephrin and Eph concentrations and binding affinities. We generalize these findings for the ventral ectoderm-mesoderm boundary and the notochord boundary, both of which appear to function on the same principles. These results provide a paradigm for how developmental systems may integrate multiple cues to generate discrete local outcomes.
Project description:During forebrain morphogenesis, there is extensive reorganisation of the cells destined to form the eyes, telencephalon and diencephalon. Little is known about the molecular mechanisms that regulate region-specific behaviours and that maintain the coherence of cell populations undergoing specific morphogenetic processes. In this study, we show that the activity of the Eph/Ephrin signalling pathway maintains segregation between the prospective eyes and adjacent regions of the anterior neural plate during the early stages of forebrain morphogenesis in zebrafish. Several Ephrins and Ephs are expressed in complementary domains in the prospective forebrain and combinatorial abrogation of their activity results in incomplete segregation of the eyes and telencephalon and in defective evagination of the optic vesicles. Conversely, expression of exogenous Ephs or Ephrins in regions of the prospective forebrain where they are not usually expressed changes the adhesion properties of the cells, resulting in segregation to the wrong domain without changing their regional fate. The failure of eye morphogenesis in rx3 mutants is accompanied by a loss of complementary expression of Ephs and Ephrins, suggesting that this pathway is activated downstream of the regional fate specification machinery to establish boundaries between domains undergoing different programmes of morphogenesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Animals have a greater diversity of signalling pathways than their unicellular relatives, consistent with the evolution and expansion of these pathways occurring in parallel with the origin of animal multicellularity. However, the genomes of sponges and ctenophores - non-bilaterian basal animals - typically encode no, or far fewer, recognisable signalling ligands compared to bilaterians and cnidarians. For instance, the largest subclass of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in bilaterians, the Eph receptors (Ephs), are present in sponges and ctenophores, but their cognate ligands, the ephrins, have not yet been detected. RESULTS:Here, we use an iterative HMM analysis to identify for the first time membrane-bound ephrins in sponges and ctenophores. We also expand the number of Eph-receptor subtypes identified in these animals and in cnidarians. Both sequence and structural analyses are consistent with the Eph ligand binding domain (LBD) and the ephrin receptor binding domain (RBD) having evolved via the co-option of ancient galactose-binding (discoidin-domain)-like and monodomain cupredoxin domains, respectively. Although we did not detect a complete Eph-ephrin signalling pathway in closely-related unicellular holozoans or in other non-metazoan eukaryotes, truncated proteins with Eph receptor LBDs and ephrin RBDs are present in some choanoflagellates. Together, these results indicate that Eph-ephrin signalling was present in the last common ancestor of extant metazoans, and perhaps even in the last common ancestor of animals and choanoflagellates. Either scenario pushes the origin of Eph-ephrin signalling back much earlier than previously reported. CONCLUSIONS:We propose that the Eph-LBD and ephrin-RBD, which were ancestrally localised in the cytosol, became linked to the extracellular parts of two cell surface proteins before the divergence of sponges and ctenophores from the rest of the animal kingdom. The ephrin-RBD lost the ancestral capacity to bind copper, and the Eph-LBD became linked to an ancient RTK. The identification of divergent ephrin ligands in sponges and ctenophores suggests that these ligands evolve faster than their cognate receptors. As this may be a general phenomena, we propose that the sequence-structure approach used in this study may be usefully applied to other signalling systems where no, or a small number of, ligands have been identified.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Increased expression of Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrin ligands has been implicated in tumor progression in a number of malignancies. This report describes aberrant expression of these genes in ovarian cancer, the commonest cause of death amongst gynaecological malignancies. METHODS: Eph and ephrin expression was determined using quantitative real time RT-PCR. Correlation of gene expression was measured using Spearman's rho statistic. Survival was analysed using log-rank analysis and (was visualised by) Kaplan-Meier survival curves. RESULTS: Greater than 10 fold over-expression of EphA1 and a more modest over-expression of EphA2 were observed in partially overlapping subsets of tumors. Over-expression of EphA1 strongly correlated (r = 0.801; p < 0.01) with the high affinity ligand ephrin A1. A similar trend was observed between EphA2 and ephrin A1 (r = 0.387; p = 0.06). A striking correlation of both ephrin A1 and ephrin A5 expression with poor survival (r = -0.470; p = 0.02 and r = -0.562; p < 0.01) was observed. Intriguingly, there was no correlation between survival and other clinical parameters or Eph expression. CONCLUSION: These data imply that increased levels of ephrins A1 and A5 in the presence of high expression of Ephs A1 and A2 lead to a more aggressive tumor phenotype. The known functions of Eph/ephrin signalling in cell de-adhesion and movement may explain the observed correlation of ephrin expression with poor prognosis.