Eph Family Receptors and Their Ligands Distribute in Opposing Gradients in the Developing Mouse Retina

Dev Biol. 1996 Dec 15;180(2):786-9. doi: 10.1006/dbio.1996.0347.


The Eph family of receptor tyrosine kinases and their ligands can be divided into two specificity subclasses: the Eck-related receptors and their GPI-anchored ligands, and the Elk-related receptors and their transmembrane ligands. Previous reports demonstrated that Eck- and Elk-related receptors in the retina distribute in high temporal-low nasal and high ventral-low dorsal gradients, respectively. While others have focused on complementary ligand gradients in the retinal axon target, the tectum, we report that ligands from each subclass also distribute in gradients opposing those of their corresponding receptors within the retina itself. Moreover, ligand gradients in the retina precede ganglion cell genesis. These results support an intraretinal role for Eph family members in addition to their previously proposed role in the development of retinotectal topography. The distinct distributions of Eph family members suggest that each subclass specifies positional information along independent retinal axes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • DNA Probes
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Ephrin-A2
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Glycosylphosphatidylinositols / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pregnancy
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / analysis
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis*
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / embryology*
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology


  • DNA Probes
  • Ephrin-A2
  • Glycosylphosphatidylinositols
  • Ligands
  • Proteins
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases