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J Neurosci. 2003 Jun 1;23(11):4601-12.

The chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 promotes the survival of embryonic retinal ganglion cells.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


The chemokine receptor CXCR4 is expressed in the embryonic and mature CNS, yet its normal physiological function in neurons remains obscure. Here, we show that its cognate chemokine, stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1), promotes the survival of cultured embryonic retinal ganglion cell neurons even in the absence of other neurotrophic factors. This survival effect is mediated primarily through a cAMP-dependent pathway that acts through protein kinase A and MAP kinase. Addition of SDF-1 to a human neuronal cell line induces phosphorylation of p44/p42 MAP kinase and GSK3beta. Mouse embryos lacking the CXCR4 receptor have a reduced number of retinal ganglion cells. The ligand of CXCR4, SDF-1, may therefore provide generalized trophic support to neurons during their development and maturation.

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