As Tom and Jerry have proven time and time again, repulsive forces are serious business and highly entertaining. Today’s image is from a paper describing how different cell types repel one another to help create boundaries between tissues.
The study of how cells adhere to or repel one another is an important field of study in developmental biology. Ephrin ligands and their respective Eph receptors trigger repulsive cues between cells of different types. Many different tissue types express the same ephrins and Eph receptors, yet only those cells at the tissue interface repel one another. A recent study tests how these signals are integrated to provide repulsion at only the tissue interface, and not between cells of the same tissue. Rohani and colleagues used the dorsal ectoderm-mesoderm boundary of early frog embryos to find Eph-ephrin pairs that are expressed in complementary tissues. The cells at the boundary of the tissues have a combined Eph-ephrin repulsive signal that is sufficient for a repulsive force, suggesting a simple model of repulsion based on relative concentrations and binding affinities of Eph receptors and ephrins at tissue boundaries. The image above shows the higher concentration of EphB receptors (green) at the ectoderm-mesoderm boundary.
Rohani, N., Parmeggiani, A., Winklbauer, R., & Fagotto, F. (2014). Variable Combinations of Specific Ephrin Ligand/Eph Receptor Pairs Control Embryonic Tissue Separation PLoS Biology, 12 (9) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001955