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Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)

Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) (PDB code: 1bet) (more details...)

Nerve growth factor (NGF), the prototypical growth factor, is a protein secreted by a neuron's target. NGF is critical for the survival and maintenance of sympathetic and sensory neurons. NGF is released from the target cells, binds to and activates its high affinity receptor (TrkA), and is internalized into the responsive neuron. The NGF/TrkA complex is subsequently trafficked back to the cell body. This movement of NGF from axon tip to soma is thought to be involved in the long-distance signaling of neurons.


Mechanism of action for NGF

NGF binds at least two receptors on the surface of cells which are capable of responding to this growth factor, TrkA (pronounced "Track A") and the LNGFR (for "low affinity nerve growth factor receptor").

The TrkA Receptor

TrkA is a receptor tyrosine kinase (meaning it mediates its actions by causing the addition of phosphate molecules on certain tyrosines in the cell, activating cellular signaling). There are other related Trk receptors, TrkB and TrkC. Also, there are other neurotrophic factors structurally related to NGF: BDNF (for Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), NT-3 (for Neurotrophin-3) and NT-4 (for Neurotrophin-4). While TrkA mediates the effects of NGF, TrkB binds and is activated by BDNF, NT-4, and NT-3, and TrkC binds and is activated only by NT-3.

The LNGFR

The other NGF receptor, the LNGFR, (for Low affinity nerve growth factor receptor,commonly known as p75, plays a less clear role. LNGFR binds and serves as a "sink" for neurotrophins. Cells which express both the LNGFR and the Trk receptors might therefore have a greater activity - since they have a higher "microconcentration" of the neurotrophin. However, although NGF has been classically described as promoting neuron survival and differentiation, research performed in the early 2000's suggest that NGF with its prodomain attached (proNGF) can elicit apoptosis of cells that are positive for the LNGFR and negative for TrkA. [1]

Secreted proNGF has been demonstrated in a variety of neuronal and non-neuronal cell populations. It has been proposed that secreted proNGF can elicit neuron death in a variety of neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimers disease, following the observation of an increase of proNGF in the nucleus basalis of postmortem Alzheimer's brains.

See also

External links


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Target-derived NGF, BDNF, NT-3

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