Identification of a novel agrin-dependent pathway in cell signaling and adhesion within the erythroid niche

A. Anselmo, E. Lauranzano, C. Soldani, C. Ploia, R. Angioni, G. D'amico, A. Sarukhan, C. Mazzon, A. Viola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Establishment of cell–cell adhesion is crucial in embryonic development as well as within the stem cell niches of an adult. Adhesion between macrophages and erythroblasts is required for the formation of erythroblastic islands, specialized niches where erythroblasts proliferate and differentiate to produce red blood cells throughout life. The Eph family is the largest known family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and controls cell adhesion, migration, invasion and morphology by modulating integrin and adhesion molecule activity and by modifying the actin cytoskeleton. Here, we identify the proteoglycan agrin as a novel regulator of Eph receptor signaling and characterize a novel mechanism controlling cell–cell adhesion and red cell development within the erythroid niche. We demonstrate that agrin induces clustering and activation of EphB1 receptors on developing erythroblasts, leading to the activation of α5β1 integrins. In agreement, agrin knockout mice display severe anemia owing to defective adhesion to macrophages and impaired maturation of erythroid cells. These results position agrin-EphB1 as a novel key signaling couple regulating cell adhesion and erythropoiesis.Cell Death and Differentiation advance online publication, 18 March 2016; doi:10.1038/cdd.2016.10.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Mar 18 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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