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The loss of inhibition of glucagon secretion exacerbates hyperglycemia in type 1 and 2 diabetes. However, the molecular mechanisms that regulate glucagon secretion in unaffected and diabetic states remain relatively unexplained. We present evidence supporting a new model of juxtacrine-mediated regulation of glucagon secretion where neighboring islet cells negatively regulate glucagon secretion through tonic stimulation of α-cell EphA receptors. Primarily through EphA4 receptors, this stimulation correlates with maintenance of a dense F-actin network. In islets, additional stimulation and inhibition of endogenous EphA forward signaling result in inhibition and enhancement, respectively, of glucagon secretion, accompanied by an increase and decrease, respectively, in α-cell F-actin density. Sorted α-cells lack endogenous stimulation of EphA forward signaling from neighboring cells, resulting in enhanced basal glucagon secretion as compared with islets and the elimination of glucose inhibition of glucagon secretion. Restoration of EphA forward signaling in sorted α-cells recapitulates both normal basal glucagon secretion and glucose inhibition of glucagon secretion. Additionally, α-cell-specific EphA4(-/-) mice exhibit abnormal glucagon dynamics, and EphA4(-/-) α-cells contain less dense F-actin networks than EphA4(+/+) α-cells. This juxtacrine-mediated model provides insight into the functional and dysfunctional regulation of glucagon secretion and opens up new therapeutic strategies for the clinical management of diabetes.
© 2015 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.
Pre-clinical studies provide compelling evidence that Eph family receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and ligands promote cancer growth, neovascularization, invasion, and metastasis. Tumor suppressive roles have also been reported for the receptors, however, creating a potential barrier for clinical application. Determining how these observations relate to clinical outcome is a crucial step for translating the biological and mechanistic data into new molecularly targeted therapies. We investigated eph and ephrin expression in human breast cancer relative to endpoints of overall and/or recurrence-free survival in large microarray datasets. We also investigated protein expression in commercial human breast tissue microarrays (TMA) and Stage I prognostic TMAs linked to recurrence outcome data. We found significant correlations between ephA2, ephA4, ephA7, ephB4, and ephB6 and overall and/or recurrence-free survival in large microarray datasets. Protein expression in TMAs supported these trends. While observed no correlation between ephrin ligand expression and clinical outcome in microarray datasets, ephrin-A1 and EphA2 protein co-expression was significantly associated with recurrence in Stage I prognostic breast cancer TMAs. Our data suggest that several Eph family members are clinically relevant and tractable targets for intervention in human breast cancer. Moreover, profiling Eph receptor expression patterns in the context of relevant ligands and in the context of stage may be valuable in terms of diagnostics and treatment.
Eph receptors are a unique family of receptor tyrosine kinases that play critical roles in embryonic patterning, neuronal targeting, vascular development and adult neovascularization. Engagement of Eph receptors by ephrin ligands mediates critical steps of angiogenesis, including juxtacrine cell-cell contacts, cell adhesion to extracellular matrix, and cell migration. Recent evidence from in vitro angiogenesis assays and analysis of mice deficient for one or more members of the Eph family establishes the role of Eph signaling in sprouting angiogenesis and blood vessel remodeling during vascular development. Furthermore, elevated expression of Eph receptors and ephrin ligands is associated with tumors and associated tumor vasculature, suggesting that Eph receptors and their ephrin ligands also play critical roles in tumor angiogenesis and tumor growth. This review will focus on the relevance of Eph receptor signaling in embryonic and adult neovascularization, and possible contributions to tumor growth and metastasis.