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Neuron. 2001 Oct 11;32(1):99-112.

Ca(2+) binding protein frequenin mediates GDNF-induced potentiation of Ca(2+) channels and transmitter release.

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Laboratory of Cellular and Synaptic Neurophysiology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Molecular mechanisms underlying long-term neurotrophic regulation of synaptic transmission and plasticity are unknown. We report here that long-term treatment of neuromuscular synapses with glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) potentiates spontaneous and evoked transmitter release, in ways very similar to presynaptic expression of the Ca(2+) binding protein frequenin. GDNF enhances the expression of frequenin in motoneurons, and inhibition of frequenin expression or activity prevents the synaptic action of GDNF. GDNF also facilitates Ca(2+) influx into the nerve terminals during evoked transmission by enhancing Ca(2+) currents. The effect of GDNF on Ca(2+) currents is blocked by inhibition of frequenin expression, occluded by overexpression of frequenin, and is selective to N-type Ca(2+) channels. These results identify an important molecular target that mediates the long-term, synaptic action of a neurotrophic factor.

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