EphB-ephrin-B2 interactions are required for thymus migration during organogenesis.
Foster KE., Gordon J., Cardenas K., Veiga-Fernandes H., Makinen T., Grigorieva E., Wilkinson DG., Blackburn CC., Richie E., Manley NR., Adams RH., Kioussis D., Coles MC.
Thymus organogenesis requires coordinated interactions of multiple cell types, including neural crest (NC) cells, to orchestrate the formation, separation, and subsequent migration of the developing thymus from the third pharyngeal pouch to the thoracic cavity. The molecular mechanisms driving these processes are unclear; however, NC-derived mesenchyme has been shown to play an important role. Here, we show that, in the absence of ephrin-B2 expression on thymic NC-derived mesenchyme, the thymus remains in the cervical area instead of migrating into the thoracic cavity. Analysis of individual NC-derived thymic mesenchymal cells shows that, in the absence of ephrin-B2, their motility is impaired as a result of defective EphB receptor signaling. This implies a NC-derived cell-specific role of EphB-ephrin-B2 interactions in the collective migration of the thymic rudiment during organogenesis.