Trk receptor tyrosine kinases: a bridge between cancer and neural development

Cancer Lett. 2001 Aug 28;169(2):107-14. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(01)00530-4.


The proto-oncogene Trks encode the high-affinity receptor tyrosine kinases for neurotrophins of a nerve growth factor (NGF) family. The Trk signals spatiotemporally regulate neural development and maintenance of neural network. However, Trk was originally cloned as an oncogene fused with the tropomyosin gene in the extracellular domain. Accumulating evidence has demonstrated that the rearranged Trk oncogene is often observed in non-neuronal neoplasms such as colon and papillary thyroid cancers, while the signals through the receptors encoded by the proto-oncogene Trks regulate growth, differentiation and apoptosis of the tumors with neuronal origin such as neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma. The intracellular Trk signaling pathway is also different depending on the Trk family receptors, cell types and the grade of transformation. Furthermore, developmentally programmed cell death of neuron, which is largely regulated by neurotrophin signaling, is at least in part controlled by tumor suppressors p53 and p73 as well as their antagonist DeltaNp73. Thus, the Trks and their downstream signaling function in both ontogenesis and oncogenesis. In this short review, the dynamic role of the Trk family receptors signaling in neural development, neurogenic tumors and other cancers will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Nervous System / embryology*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology*
  • Receptor, trkA / metabolism
  • Receptor, trkB / metabolism
  • Receptor, trkC / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Protein p73
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • TP73 protein, human
  • Tumor Protein p73
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • delta Np73 protein, human
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, trkA
  • Receptor, trkB
  • Receptor, trkC