Receptor binding, internalization, and retrograde transport of neurotrophic factors

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2001 Jul;58(8):1021-35. doi: 10.1007/PL00000917.


This review deals with the receptor interactions of neurotrophic factors, focusing on the neurotrophins of the nerve growth factor (NGF) family, the glial cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family, and the ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) family. The finding that two proteins, p75NTR and Trk, act as receptors for NGF in neurons generated the discovery of other neurotrophic factors/receptor families and has enhanced our understanding of the development, survival, regeneration, and degeneration of the nervous system. The kinetics of binding, the structure of the ligand-receptor complex, and the mechanism of retrograde transport of the neurotrophins are discussed in detail and compared to information available on the GDNF and CNTF families. Each neurotrophic factor family, i.e., NGF, GDNF, and CNTF, has a set of receptors with specificity for individual members of the family and a common receptor without member specificity that, in some families, generates the cellular signal and retrograde transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Humans
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Transport
  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Receptor, trkA / metabolism
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Receptor, trkA