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Nature. 1997 Jun 12;387(6634):721-4.

Neurturin responsiveness requires a GPI-linked receptor and the Ret receptor tyrosine kinase.

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School of Biological and Medical Sciences, University of St Andrews, Fife, UK.


Neurturin (NTN) is a recently identified homologue of glial-cell-line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). Both factors promote the survival of a variety of neurons, and GDNF is required for the development of the enteric nervous system and kidney. GDNF signals through a receptor complex consisting of the receptor tyrosine kinase Ret and a glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked receptor termed GDNFR-alpha. Here we report the cloning of a new GPI-linked receptor termed NTNR-alpha that is homologous with GDNFR-alpha and is widely expressed in the nervous system and other tissues. By using microinjection to introduce expression plasmids into neurons, we show that coexpression of NTNR-alpha with Ret confers a survival response to neurturin but not GDNF, and that coexpression of GDNFR-alpha with Ret confers a survival response to GDNF but not neurturin. Our findings indicate that GDNF and neurturin promote neuronal survival by signalling through similar multicomponent receptors that consist of a common receptor tyrosine kinase and a member of a GPI-linked family of receptors that determines ligand specificity.

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