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Neuron. 2000 Mar;25(3):611-23.

GFRalpha-mediated localization of RET to lipid rafts is required for effective downstream signaling, differentiation, and neuronal survival.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The GDNF family ligands (GFLs: GDNF, neurturin, persephin, and artemin) signal through RET and a gly-cosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored coreceptor (GFRalpha1-alpha4) that binds ligand with high affinity and provides specificity. The importance of the GPI anchor is not fully understood; however, GPI-linked proteins cluster into lipid rafts, structures that may represent highly specialized signaling organelles. Here, we report that GPI-anchored GFRalpha1 recruits RET to lipid rafts after GDNF stimulation and results in RET/Src association. Disruption of RET localization using either transmembrane-anchored or soluble GFRalpha1 results in RET phosphorylation, but GDNF-induced intracellular signaling events are markedly attenuated as are neuronal differentiation and survival responses. Therefore, proper membrane localization of RET via interaction with a raft-localized, GPI-linked coreceptor is of fundamental importance in GFL signaling.

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