Transfection with trk restores 'slow' NGF binding, efficient NGF uptake, and multiple NGF responses to NGF-nonresponsive PC12 cell mutants

D. M. Loeb, L. A. Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


NGF binds to and activates the protein tyrosine kinase gp140(prototrk). Expression of this receptor is required for at least some responses to NGF. Three outstanding issues are addressed in the present work. First, we determined whether expression of gp140(prototrk) is required for all neuronal NGF responses. Second, we examined the role of gp140(prototrk) in NGF binding and internalization. Third, we addressed the utility of NGF-nonresponsive PC12nnr5 cells for study of the NGF mechanism. In contrast to wild-type PC12 cells, PC12nnr5 cells do not express endogenous gp140(prototrk). We therefore asked whether they possess other defects that compromise NGF signaling pathways. To answer these questions, we transfected PC12nnr5 cells with a cDNA encoding full-length human gp140(prototrk) and isolated cell lines permanently expressing the receptor. Introduction of trk rescued all of the many and varied NGF responses assessed, including enhanced protein tyrosine phosphorylation, induction of immediate-early and neural-specific genes, neurite outgrowth and regeneration, maintenance of survival in serum-free medium, and stimulation of AChE activity. In contrast to PC12nnr5 cells, the trk-transfected lines also bind and internalize NGF with wild-type PC12 cell characteristics. These findings indicate that gp140(prototrk) is required for many, if not all, responses of neuronal cells to NGF and is necessary for proper NGF binding and internalization. Additionally, as no signaling defect other than the absence of trk expression was revealed in PC12nnr5 cells, this work supports the utility of this line for genetic dissection of the NGF mechanism of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2919-2929
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • NGF
  • NGF binding
  • NGF internalization
  • NGF receptor
  • PC12 cells
  • PC12nnr cells
  • Trk
  • signal transduction
  • tyrosine kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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