Ephrins and their receptors: binding versus biology

IUBMB Life. 2004 May;56(5):257-65. doi: 10.1080/15216540412331270076.


Ephrins and Eph receptors play important roles in the development of the central nervous system and peripheral tissues by orchestrating cellular movements, resulting in events such as axonal growth cone guidance, tissue segmentation, and angiogenic remodeling. To understand the role of specific ephrin and Eph receptor interactions, it is important to identify the binding specificity between individual ligand-receptor complexes. To date, a dogma in the field suggests that there may be promiscuous binding within the subclasses of the ephrin family. However, this overlooks and contradicts several binding studies that suggest specificity within each subclass. Although binding studies only provide evidence on the dynamics and strength of protein interactions, they do not indicate whether particular interactions are physiologically relevant. Thus, distribution and gene targeted mutations of ephrins and their receptors can provide critical insights into the relevance of specific ligand-receptors interactions. This review mainly focuses on the B-class family and will evaluate the differences between binding affinities and biological functions, importance of oligomeric interactions, and structural differences and similarities between classes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ephrins / chemistry
  • Ephrins / classification
  • Ephrins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Eph Family / chemistry
  • Receptors, Eph Family / metabolism*


  • Ephrins
  • Receptors, Eph Family