Distinct and overlapping expression patterns of ligands for Eph-related receptor tyrosine kinases during mouse embryogenesis

Dev Biol. 1996 Nov 1;179(2):382-401. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1996.0269.


Recent studies have implicated Eph-related receptor tyrosine kinases and their membrane-bound ligands in restricting or stimulating the movement of cells and axons. Members of these large families of receptors and ligands fall into two major binding specificity classes, in which the GPI-anchored subgroup of ligands can each bind to all members of a subgroup of receptors, whereas the transmembrane ligands interact with a distinct subgroup of receptors. Analysis of expression patterns is therefore important in order to understand which receptor-ligand interactions occur in vivo. We have cloned mouse orthologues of five members of the ligand family and analysed in detail their developmental expression, in comparison with each other, and with the receptor specificity class they can interact with. We find that B61, AL-1/RAGS, LERK4, and ELF-1, members of the GPI-anchored subgroup of ligands, have both distinct and overlapping aspects to their expression in early mesoderm, somites, and branchial arches; in complex, dynamic patterns in the limb; and in spatial domains and specific neurons in the CNS. Similarly, Elk-L is expressed in hindbrain segments, the roof plate, and floor plate, which overlaps with that of other transmembrane ligands, but has distinct expression in somites. The expression domains of ligands are complementary to those of the corresponding receptors in a number of tissues, including the midbrain, hindbrain, and differentiating limbs, consistent with potential roles in restricting cell movement. In addition, we find that there are some overlaps in expression of receptors and ligands, for example in somites and the early limb. Taken together with previous studies showing that Eph-related receptors also have distinct but overlapping expression patterns, these data indicate that each ligand may have stage- and tissue-specific interactions with an individual member or multiple members of the receptor family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor, EphB6


  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Receptor, EphB6
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U90662
  • GENBANK/U90663
  • GENBANK/U90664
  • GENBANK/U90665
  • GENBANK/U90666