Neurotrophin signaling via long-distance axonal transport

Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2012:63:571-94. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physchem-032511-143704. Epub 2012 Jan 30.


Neurotrophins are a family of target-derived growth factors that support survival, development, and maintenance of innervating neurons. Owing to the unique architecture of neurons, neurotrophins that act locally on the axonal terminals must convey their signals across the entire axon for subsequent regulation of gene transcription in the cell nucleus. This long-distance retrograde signaling, a motor-driven process that can take hours or days, has been a subject of intense interest. In the last decade, live-cell imaging with high sensitivity has significantly increased our capability to track the transport of neurotrophins, their receptors, and subsequent signals in real time. This review summarizes recent research progress in understanding neurotrophin-receptor interactions at the axonal terminal and their transport dynamics along the axon. We emphasize high-resolution studies at the single-molecule level and also discuss recent technical advances in the field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport*
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Humans
  • Nerve Growth Factors / analysis
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Staining and Labeling / methods


  • Nerve Growth Factors