Editors' ChoiceCell Biology

The Yin and Yang of Neuronal Maintenance

Science Signaling  22 Apr 2008:
Vol. 1, Issue 16, pp. ec145
DOI: 10.1126/stke.116ec145

During development, more peripheral neurons project to target organs than are ultimately needed. The neurons then compete for neurotrophic factors that are secreted by target cells. Deppmann et al. now explain how some neurons manage to survive, whereas others die, even though they have similar access to sustaining growth factors. The answer appears to depend on a series of feedback loops. Nerve growth factor (NGF) secreted by target cells not only stimulates expression of its own receptor but also promotes expression of other factors that can cause neuronal cell death. The surviving neurons appear to have sufficiently strong NGF signaling to withstand the antagonistic signals.

C. D. Deppmann, S. Mihalas, N. Sharma, B. E. Lonze, E. Niebur, D. D. Ginty, A model for neuronal competition during development. Science 320, 369-373 (2008). [Abstract] [Full Text]