The glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family ligands (GFLs), consisting of GDNF, neurturin, persephin, and artemin, signal via a multicomponent complex composed of Ret tyrosine kinase and the glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored coreceptors GFRα1-α4. In previous work we have demonstrated that the localization of Ret to membrane microdomains known as lipid rafts is essential for GDNF-induced downstream signaling, differentiation, and neuronal survival. Moreover, we have found that Ret interacts with members of the Src family kinases (SFK) only when it is localized to these microdomains. In the present work we show by pharmacological and genetic approaches that Src activity was necessary to elicit optimal GDNF-mediated signaling, neurite outgrowth, and survival. In particular, p60Src, but not the other ubiquitous SFKs, Fyn and Yes, was responsible for the observed effects. Moreover, Src appeared to promote neuronal survival via a phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI-3K)-dependent pathway because the PI-3K inhibitor LY294002 prevented GFL-mediated neuronal survival and prevented activated Src-mediated neuronal survival. In contrast, the inhibition of Src activity had no effects on NGF-mediated survival, indicating that the requirement for Src was selective for GFL-mediated neuronal survival. These data confirm the importance of protein-protein interactions between Ret and raft-associated proteins in the signaling pathways elicited by GDNF, and the data implicate Src as one of the major signaling molecules involved in GDNF-mediated bioactivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1464-1472
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2001


  • Cerebellar granule neurons
  • GDNF family ligands (GFLs)
  • Lipid rafts
  • Phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI-3K)
  • Ret
  • Src family kinases (SFKs)


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