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A Model for Neuronal Competition During Development

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Science  18 Apr 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5874, pp. 369-373
DOI: 10.1126/science.1152677

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Abstract

We report that developmental competition between sympathetic neurons for survival is critically dependent on a sensitization process initiated by target innervation and mediated by a series of feedback loops. Target-derived nerve growth factor (NGF) promoted expression of its own receptor TrkA in mouse and rat neurons and prolonged TrkA-mediated signals. NGF also controlled expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-4, which, through the receptor p75, can kill neighboring neurons with low retrograde NGF-TrkA signaling whereas neurons with high NGF-TrkA signaling are protected. Perturbation of any of these feedback loops disrupts the dynamics of competition. We suggest that three target-initiated events are essential for rapid and robust competition between neurons: sensitization, paracrine apoptotic signaling, and protection from such effects.

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