Phosphoproteomics identifies a bimodal EPHA2 receptor switch that promotes embryonic stem cell differentiation

Rosalia Fernandez-Alonso, Francisco Bustos, Manon Budzyk, Pankaj Kumar, Andreas O. Helbig, Jens Hukelmann, Angus I. Lamond, Fredrik Lanner, Houjiang Zhou, Evangelia Petsalaki, Greg M. Findlay (Lead / Corresponding author)

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) differentiation requires complex cell signalling network dynamics, although the key molecular events remain poorly understood. Here, we use phosphoproteomics to identify an FGF4-mediated phosphorylation switch centred upon the key Ephrin receptor EPHA2 in differentiating ESCs. We show that EPHA2 maintains pluripotency and restrains commitment by antagonising ERK1/2 signalling. Upon ESC differentiation, FGF4 utilises a bimodal strategy to disable EPHA2, which is accompanied by transcriptional induction of EFN ligands. Mechanistically, FGF4-ERK1/2-RSK signalling inhibits EPHA2 via Ser/Thr phosphorylation, whilst FGF4-ERK1/2 disrupts a core pluripotency transcriptional circuit required for Epha2 gene expression. This system also operates in mouse and human embryos, where EPHA receptors are enriched in pluripotent cells whilst surrounding lineage-specified trophectoderm expresses EFNA ligands. Our data provide insight into function and regulation of EPH-EFN signalling in ESCs, and suggest that segregated EPH-EFN expression coordinates cell fate with compartmentalisation during early embryonic development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1357
Number of pages13
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2020


  • Cell signalling
  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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