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J Neurobiol. 2005 Feb 5;62(2):278-88.

BDNF regulates primary dendrite formation in cortical neurons via the PI3-kinase and MAP kinase signaling pathways.

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Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 725 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Neurotrophins are known to regulate dendritic development, but the mechanisms that mediate neurotrophin-dependent dendrite formation are largely unknown. Here we show that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) induces the formation of primary dendrites in cortical neurons by a protein synthesis-independent mechanism. BDNF leads to the rapid activation of PI3-kinase, MAP kinase, and PLC-gamma in cortical neurons, and pharmacological inhibition of PI3-kinase and MAP kinase in dissociated cell cultures and cortical slice cultures suppresses the ability of BDNF to induce dendrite formation. A constitutively active form of PI3-kinase, but not MEK, is sufficient to induce primary dendrite formation in cortical neurons. These observations indicate that BDNF induces primary dendrite formation via activation of the PI3-kinase and MAP kinase pathways and provide insight into the mechanisms that mediate the morphological effects of neurotrophin signaling.

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