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This article is the authors’ final published version in International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22, Issue 19, October 2021, Article number 10473.

The published version is available at Copyright © Xu et al.


The Eph receptor tyrosine kinases and their ephrin ligands direct axon pathfinding and neuronal cell migration, as well as mediate many other cell–cell communication events. Their dysfunctional signaling has been shown to lead to various diseases, including cancer. The Ephs and ephrins both localize to the plasma membrane and, upon cell–cell contact, form extensive signaling assemblies at the contact sites. The Ephs and the ephrins are divided into A and B subclasses based on their sequence conservation and affinities for each other. The molecular details of Eph–ephrin recognition have been previously revealed and it has been documented that ephrin binding induces higher-order Eph assemblies, which are essential for full biological activity, via multiple, distinct Eph–Eph interfaces. One Eph–Eph interface type is characterized by a homotypic, head-to-tail interaction between the ligand-binding and the fibronectin domains of two adjacent Eph molecules. While the previous Eph ectodomain structural studies were focused on A class receptors, we now report the crystal structure of the full ectodomain of EphB2, revealing distinct and unique head-to-tail receptor–receptor interactions. The EphB2 structure and structure-based mutagenesis document that EphB2 uses the head-to-tail interactions as a novel autoinhibitory control mechanism for regulating downstream signaling and that these interactions can be modulated by posttranslational modifications.

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