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The conservation of neurotrophic factors during vertebrate evolution.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Psychiatry, Department of Neurochemistry, Martinsried, F.R.G.


Neurotrophic factors are a family of extracellular ligands that affect the differentiation, survival (by inhibition of apoptosis) and maintenance of function of neuronal cells in vertebrates. The family includes nerve growth factor (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) and neurotrophin-4/5 (NT-4/5). The survival specificities of NGF and BDNF for different classes of chick neurons are maintained from the fish to the mammalian proteins, implying a conserved interaction with neuronal cell surface receptors (of the Trk family). However, the quantitative effect of a fish neurotrophin can differ significantly from that of the mammalian orthologue.

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