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Membranes (Basel). 2014 Oct 6;4(4):642-77. doi: 10.3390/membranes4040642.

The role of rab proteins in neuronal cells and in the trafficking of neurotrophin receptors.

Author information

1
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Via Provinciale Lecce Monteroni 165, Lecce 73100, Italy. cecilia.bucci@unisalento.it.
2
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Via Provinciale Lecce Monteroni 165, Lecce 73100, Italy. pietro.alifano@unisalento.it.
3
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Via Provinciale Lecce Monteroni 165, Lecce 73100, Italy. lcog@inwind.it.

Abstract

Neurotrophins are a family of proteins that are important for neuronal development, neuronal survival and neuronal functions. Neurotrophins exert their role by binding to their receptors, the Trk family of receptor tyrosine kinases (TrkA, TrkB, and TrkC) and p75NTR, a member of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor superfamily. Binding of neurotrophins to receptors triggers a complex series of signal transduction events, which are able to induce neuronal differentiation but are also responsible for neuronal maintenance and neuronal functions. Rab proteins are small GTPases localized to the cytosolic surface of specific intracellular compartments and are involved in controlling vesicular transport. Rab proteins, acting as master regulators of the membrane trafficking network, play a central role in both trafficking and signaling pathways of neurotrophin receptors. Axonal transport represents the Achilles' heel of neurons, due to the long-range distance that molecules, organelles and, in particular, neurotrophin-receptor complexes have to cover. Indeed, alterations of axonal transport and, specifically, of axonal trafficking of neurotrophin receptors are responsible for several human neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and some forms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. In this review, we will discuss the link between Rab proteins and neurotrophin receptor trafficking and their influence on downstream signaling pathways.

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