Editors' ChoiceNeurobiology

Blocking Death to Study Signaling by NGF

Science's STKE  29 Feb 2000:
Vol. 2000, Issue 21, pp. tw3
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2000.21.tw3

Nerve growth factor (NGF) and the NGF receptor TrkA are essential for the survival of nociceptive and sympathetic neurons both in vitro and in vivo. In order to study the role of NGF and TrkA in signaling axon growth and differentiation, Patel et al. created mice that lack NGF or TrkA and Bax, a protein that induces cell death in peripheral neurons. The absence of Bax allows these NGF-dependent neurons to survive so that the roles for NGF and TrkA in axonal growth and terminal differentiation can be studied. Patel et al. identified such roles for NGF signaling through TrkA in peripheral, but not central, sensory neurons. NGF and TrkA were essential for sensory innervation of peripheral targets and for the development of the biochemical properties of fully differentiated sensory neurons. Kaplan, Zirrgeibel, and Atwal highlight this work in an associated Preview.

Kaplan, D., Zirrgeibel, U., Atwat, J. (2000) Center stage for NGF in peripheral (but not central) sensory neuron outgrowth. Neuron 25: 253-254. [Online Journal]

Patel, T.D., Jackman, A., Rice, F.L., Kucera, J., Snider, W.D. (2000) Development of sensory neurons in the absence of NGF/TrkA signaling in vivo. Neuron 25: 345-357. [Online Journal]