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Cell. 1991 Jul 12;66(1):173-83.

The trk tyrosine protein kinase mediates the mitogenic properties of nerve growth factor and neurotrophin-3.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Princeton, New Jersey 08543-4000.


The product of the trk proto-oncogene encodes a receptor for nerve growth factor (NGF). Here we show that NGF is a powerful mitogen that can induce resting NIH 3T3 cells to enter S phase, grow in semisolid medium, and become morphologically transformed. These mitogenic effects are absolutely dependent on expression of gp140trk receptors, but do not require the presence of the previously described low affinity NGF receptor. gp140trk also serves as a receptor for the related factor neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), but not for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Both NGF and NT-3 induce the rapid phosphorylation of gp140trk receptors and the transient expression of c-Fos proteins. However, NT-3 appears to elicit more limited mitogenic responses than NGF. These results indicate that the product of the trk proto-oncogene is sufficient to mediate signal transduction processes induced by NGF and NT-3, at least in proliferating cells.

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