Neurotrophic factors promote survival, proliferation and differentiation of neurons inducing intracellular signaling via specific receptors. The conventional biochemical methods often fail to reveal full repertoire of neurotrophic factor-receptor interactions because of their limited sensitivity. We evaluated several approaches to study signaling of Glial cell line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) family ligands and found that reporter-gene systems possess exceptionally high sensitivity and a heuristic power to identify novel biologically relevant growth factor-receptor interactions. We identified persephin, a GDNF family member, as a novel ligand for GFRα1/RET receptor complex. We confirmed this finding by several independent methods, including neurite outgrowth assay from the explants of sympathetic ganglia expressing Gfrα1 and Ret mRNA but not persephin's conventional receptor GFRα4. As the activation of GFRα1/RET was shown to rescue dopaminergic neurons, our results suggest the potential of persephin for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Dopaminergic neurons
  • GFRα1
  • Glial cell line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Neuron
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Persephin
  • RET
  • SCG


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