• Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 7 May 2008
  • Accepted Preprint first posted online on 7 May 2008

Eph receptors and zonation in the rat adrenal cortex

  1. Gavin P Vinson
  1. School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, London E1 4NS, UK
  1. (Correspondence should be addressed to G P Vinson; Email: g.p.vinson{at}qmul.ac.uk)


Although the zonation of the adrenal cortex has a clear functional role, the mechanisms that maintain it remain largely conjectural. The concept that an outer proliferative layer gives rise to cells that migrate inwards, adopting sequentially the zona glomerulosa, fasciculata and reticularis phenotypes, has yet to be explained mechanistically. In other tissues, Eph receptor (EphR)/ephrin signalling provides a mechanism for cellular orientation and migration patterns. Real-time PCR and other methods were used to determine the possible role of Eph/ephrin systems in the rat adrenal. mRNA coding for several members of the EphR family was detected, but out of these, EphA2 provided the closest parallel to zonal organisation. In situ hybridisation showed that EphA2 mRNA and EphA protein were predominantly located in the zona glomerulosa. Its transcription closely reflected expected changes in the glomerulosa phenotype, thus it was increased after a low-sodium diet, but decreased by pretreatment with the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, captopril. It was also decreased by ACTH treatment, but unaffected by betamethasone. mRNA coding for ephrin A1, the major ligand for the EphA receptors, was also detected in the rat adrenal, though changes evoked by the various pretreatments did not clearly reflect the expected changes in zonal function. Because the maintenance of cellular zonation requires clear positional signals within the adrenal cortex, these data support a role for Eph forward and reverse signalling in the maintenance of adrenocortical zonation.

  • Received in final form 30 April 2008
  • Accepted 7 May 2008
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