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Erythropoetin-producing hepatoma (Eph) receptors are cell-surface protein tyrosine kinases mediating cell-cell communication. Upon activation, they form signaling clusters. We report crystal structures of the full ectodomain of human EphA2 (eEphA2) both alone and in complex with the receptor-binding domain of the ligand ephrinA5 (ephrinA5 RBD). Unliganded eEphA2 forms linear arrays of staggered parallel receptors involving two patches of residues conserved across A-class Ephs. eEphA2-ephrinA5 RBD forms a more elaborate assembly, whose interfaces include the same conserved regions on eEphA2, but rearranged to accommodate ephrinA5 RBD. Cell-surface expression of mutant EphA2s showed that these interfaces are critical for localization at cell-cell contacts and activation-dependent degradation. Our results suggest a 'nucleation' mechanism whereby a limited number of ligand-receptor interactions 'seed' an arrangement of receptors which can propagate into extended signaling arrays.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Struct Mol Biol

Publication Date





398 - 402


Ephrins, Humans, Ligands, Models, Molecular, Protein Conformation, Receptor, EphA2, Signal Transduction