Ample evidence supports a role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the survival and differentiation of selective populations of neurons in the peripheral and central nervous systems. In addition to its trophic actions, BDNF exerts acute effects on synaptic transmission and plasticity. In particular, BDNF enhances excitatory synaptic transmission through pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms. In this regard, BDNF enhances glutamate release, the frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs), NMDA receptor activity and the phosphorylation of NMDA receptor subunits. Our recent studies revealed a novel cooperative interaction between BDNF and glutamate in the regulation of dendritic development. Indeed, we found that the effects of BDNF on dendritic growth of cortical neurons require both the stimulation of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation by BDNF and the activation of the CREB-regulated transcription coactivator 1 (CRTC1) by glutamate. Together, these studies highlight the importance of the cooperation between BDNF and glutamate in the regulation of synaptic transmission and neuronal development.
Keywords: BDNF; CREB; CRTC; NMDA receptors; TORC; dendrite; glutamate; neuronal development; synaptic transmission.