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Moses V. Chao

Molecular Neurobiology Program
Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
Departments of Cell Biology, Physiology &
Neuroscience and Psychiatry
New York University School of Medicine

President, The Society for Neuroscience, 2011-2012
See Article

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Mechanisms of Neurotophin Receptor Signaling

Neurotrophic factors, such as NGF and BDNF, are potent signaling molecules that were first characterized for their ability to regulate neuronal growth, survival and differentiation. The absence of genes encoding neurotrophins and their receptors in Drosophila and C elegans implies that a functional nervous system can be formed without these proteins and suggests that their bone fide functions in the adult lie more in brain plasticity and high order functions.

There are many lines of evidence indicating that neurotrophins, such as BDNF, plays a central factor in behavior and learning and memory. We are interested in the role of TrkB tyrosine kinase receptor signaling in dictating neuronal responsiveness following activity-dependent events. In particular, the adaptor proteins and enzymatic activities that are recruited to the TrkB receptor to influence synaptic transmission and plasticity are being defined. We are also identifying small molecule agonists that promote BDNF function, which may ultimately be clinically relevant. A growing understanding of how neurotrophins carry out cell-cell communication in the nervous system offers the opportunity to identify biochemical events and pathways that underlie complex neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders at a molecular and synaptic level.

The Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine at the Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine
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