Ret-dependent and -independent mechanisms of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor signaling in neuronal cells

Miles Trupp, Rizaldy Scott, Scott R. Whittemore, Carlos F. Ibáñez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

272 Scopus citations


Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) has been shown to signal through a multicomponent receptor complex consisting of the Ret receptor tyrosine kinase and a member of the GFRα family of glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored receptors. In the current model of GDNF signaling, Ret delivers the intracellular signal but cannot bind ligand on its own, while GFRαs bind ligand but are thought not to signal in the absence of Ret. We have compared signaling pathways activated by GDNF in two neuronal cell lines expressing different complements of GDNF receptors. In a motorneuron-derived cell line expressing Ret and GFRαs, GDNF stimulated sustained activation of the Ras/ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathways, cAMP response element-binding protein phosphorylation, and increased c-fos expression. Unexpectedly, GDNF also promoted biochemical and biological responses in a line of conditionally immortalized neuronal precursors that express high levels of GFRαs but not Ret. GDNF treatment did not activate the Ras/ERK pathway in these cells, but stimulated a GFRα1- associated Src-like kinase activity in detergent-insoluble membrane compartments, rapid phosphorylation of cAMP response element-binding protein, up-regulation of c-fos mRNA, and cell survival. Together, these results offer new insights into the dynamics of GDNF signaling in neuronal cells, and indicate the existence of novel signaling mechanisms directly or indirectly mediated by GFRα receptors acting in a cell-autonomous manner independently of Ret.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20885-20894
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jul 23 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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