Nerve growth factor acutely reduces chemical transmission by means of postsynaptic TrkA-like receptors in squid giant synapse. Academic Article uri icon


  • Tyrosine phosphorylation has been shown to be an important modulator of synaptic transmission in both vertebrates and invertebrates. Such findings hint toward the existence of extracellular ligands capable of activating this widely represented signaling mechanism at or close to the synapse. Examples of such ligands are the peptide growth factors which, on binding, activate receptor tyrosine kinases. To gain insight into the physiological consequences of receptor tyrosine kinase activation in squid giant synapse, a series of growth factors was tested in this preparation. Electrophysiological, pharmacological, and biochemical analysis demonstrated that nerve growth factor (NGF) triggers an acute and specific reduction of the postsynaptic potential amplitude, without affecting the presynaptic spike generation or presynaptic calcium current. The NGF target is localized at a postsynaptic site and involves a new TrkA-like receptor. The squid receptor crossreacts with antibodies generated against mammalian TrkA, is tyrosine phosphorylated in response to NGF stimulation, and is blocked by specific pharmacological inhibitors. The modulation described emphasizes the important role of growth factors on invertebrate synaptic transmission.

publication date

  • December 8, 1998