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Spatiomechanical Modulation of EphB4-Ephrin-B2 Signaling in Neural Stem Cell Differentiation


Interactions between EphB4 receptor tyrosine kinases and their membrane-bound ephrin-B2 ligands on apposed cells play a regulatory role in neural stem cell differentiation. With both receptor and ligand constrained to move within the membranes of their respective cells, this signaling system inevitably experiences spatial confinement and mechanical forces in conjunction with receptor-ligand binding. In this study, we reconstitute the EphB4-ephrin-B2 juxtacrine signaling geometry using a supported-lipid-bilayer system presenting laterally mobile and monomeric ephrin-B2 ligands to live neural stem cells. This experimental platform successfully reconstitutes EphB4-ephrin-B2 binding, lateral clustering, downstream signaling activation, and neuronal differentiation, all in a configuration that preserves the spatiomechanical aspects of the natural juxtacrine signaling geometry. Additionally, the supported bilayer system allows control of lateral movement and clustering of the receptor-ligand complexes through patterns of physical barriers to lateral diffusion fabricated onto the underlying substrate. The results from this study reveal a distinct spatiomechanical effect on the ability of EphB4-ephrin-B2 signaling to induce neuronal differentiation. These observations parallel similar studies of the EphA2-ephrin-A1 system in a very different biological context, suggesting that such spatiomechanical regulation may be a common feature of Eph-ephrin signaling.

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