Movie 6 from Cell segregation and border sharpening by Eph receptor: ephrin-mediated heterotypic repulsion

Eph receptor and ephrin signalling has a major role in cell segregation and border formation, and may act through regulation of cell adhesion, repulsion or tension. To elucidate roles of cell repulsion and adhesion, we combined experiments in cell culture assays with quantitations of cell behaviour which are used in computer simulations. Cells expressing EphB2, or kinase-inactive EphB2 (kiEphB2), segregate and form a sharp border with ephrinB1-expressing cells, and this is disrupted by knockdown of N-cadherin. Measurements of contact inhibition of locomotion reveal that EphB2-, kiEphB2- and ephrinB1-expressing cells have strong heterotypic and weak homotypic repulsion. EphB2 cells have a transient increase in migration after heterotypic activation, which underlies a shift in the EphB2–ephrinB1 border but is not required for segregation or border sharpening. Simulations with the measured values of cell behaviour reveal that heterotypic repulsion can account for cell segregation and border sharpening, and is more efficient than decreased heterotypic adhesion. By suppressing homotypic repulsion, N-cadherin creates a sufficient difference between heterotypic and homotypic repulsion, and enables homotypic cohesion, both of which are required to sharpen borders.