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Keywords:

  • Biphasic modulation · EphB · Ephrin-B · TCR

Bidirectional signals via Eph receptors/ephrins have been recognized as major forms of contact-dependent cell communications such as cell attraction and repulsion. T cells express EphBs, and their ligands, the ephrin-Bs, have been known as costimulatory molecules for T-cell proliferation. Recently, another remarkable feature of ephrin-As has emerged in the form of a concentration-dependent transition from promotion to inhibition in axon growth. Here we examined whether this modification plays a role in ephrin-B costimulation in murine primary T cells. Low doses of ephrin-B1 and ephrin-B2 costimulated T-cell proliferation induced by anti-CD3, but high concentrations strongly inhibited it. In contrast, ephrin-B3 showed a steadily increasing stimulatory effect. This modulation was virtually preserved in T cells from mice simultaneously lacking four genes, EphB1, EphB2, EphB3, and EphB6. High concentrations of ephrin-B1/B2, but not ephrin-B3, inhibited the anti-CD3-induced phosphorylation of Lck and its downstream signals such as Erk and Akt. Additionally, high doses of any ephrin-Bs could phosphorylate EphB4. However, only ephrin-B1/B2 but not ephrin-B3 recruited SHP1, a phosphatase to suppress the phosphorylation of Lck. These data suggest that EphB4 signaling could engage in negative feedback to TCR signals. T-cell activation may be finely adjusted by the combination and concentration of ephrin-Bs expressed in the immunological microenvironment.