Generation of rationally-designed nerve growth factor (NGF) variants with receptor specificity

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018 Jan 1;495(1):700-705. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.11.003. Epub 2017 Nov 3.


Nerve growth factor (NGF) is the prototypic member of the neurotrophin family and binds two receptors, TrkA and the 75 kDa neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR), through which diverse and sometimes opposing effects are mediated. Using the FoldX protein design algorithm, we generated eight NGF variants with different point mutations predicted to have altered binding to TrkA or p75NTR. Of these, the I31R NGF variant exhibited specific binding to p75NTR. The generation of this NGF variant with selective affinity for p75NTR can be used to enhance understanding of neurotrophin receptor imbalance in diseases and identifies a key targetable residue for the development of small molecules to disrupt binding of NGF to TrkA with potential uses in chronic pain.

Keywords: FoldX; NGF; TrkA; p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75(NTR)).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Drug Design*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed / methods*
  • Nerve Growth Factor / biosynthesis*
  • Nerve Growth Factor / chemistry*
  • Nerve Growth Factor / genetics
  • PC12 Cells
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Engineering / methods*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Receptors, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factor