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Exosomes mediate cell contact–independent ephrin-Eph signaling during axon guidance

Journal of Cell Biology. 2016 June 27. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201601085. pii: jcb.201601085. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Gong J Körner R Louise G, Klein R
Publication Date: 2016



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 (ESC RT) 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.


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