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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jul 22;94(15):8191-5.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor rapidly enhances phosphorylation of the postsynaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit 1.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Although neurotrophins have traditionally been regarded as neuronal survival factors, recent work has suggested a role for these factors in synaptic plasticity. In particular, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) rapidly enhances synaptic transmission in hippocampal neurons through trkB receptor stimulation and postsynaptic phosphorylation mechanisms. Activation of trkB also modulates hippocampal long-term potentiation, in which postsynaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptors play a key role. However, the final common pathway through which BDNF increases postsynaptic responsiveness is unknown. We now report that BDNF, within 5 min of exposure, elicits a dose-dependent increase in phosphorylation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit 1. This acute effect occurred in hippocampal synaptoneurosomes, which contain pre- and postsynaptic elements, and in isolated hippocampal postsynaptic densities. Nerve growth factor, in contrast, caused no enhancement of phosphorylation. These results suggest a potential mechanism for trophin-induced potentiation of synaptic transmission.

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