Eph receptor and ephrin ligand-mediated interactions during angiogenesis and tumor progression

Exp Cell Res. 2006 Mar 10;312(5):642-50. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2005.10.028. Epub 2005 Dec 5.


Eph receptors comprise the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases. They are classified into an A family and a B family on the basis of the characteristic properties of the corresponding ephrin ligands which are either GPI-anchored peripheral membrane molecules (A class ephrins) or transmembrane molecules (B class ephrins). Eph receptors and ephrin ligands were originally identified as neuronal pathfinding molecules. Yet, gene targeting experiments in mice have identified the EphB/ephrinB system as critical and rate-limiting determinant of arterio-venous differentiation during embryonic vascular development. Identification of vascular EphB/ephrinB functions has in the last few years stimulated two emerging fields of vascular biology research, namely (1) the molecular analysis of the structural and functional mechanisms of arterio-venous differentiation, and (2) the molecular study of the commonalities between vascular and neuronal guidance and patterning mechanisms. This review summarizes the current understanding of vascular Eph receptor and ephrin ligand functions and provides an overview of emerging roles of the Eph/ephrin system in controlling tumor and vascular functions during tumorigenesis and tumor progression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Ephrins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / physiopathology*
  • Receptors, Eph Family / physiology*


  • Ephrins
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Eph Family