Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a potent survival factor for central and peripheral neurons and is essential for the development of kidneys and the enteric nerves system. Physiological responses to GDNF require the presence of a novel glycosylphosphadidylinositol linked protein GDNFR , which is a cell surface receptor for GDNF1,2. The cDNAs encoding GDNFR from human, rat, chicken and mouse have been cloned recently1-5. GDNFR was also termed Ret ligand 1 (RETL1) or TGF- -related neurotrophic factor receptor 1 (TrnR1) and nominated as GFR -1 recently5-7. GFR -1 binds GDNF specifically and mediates activation of the Ret protein tyrosine kinase (PTK). Thus, GDNF, GFR and the Ret PTK form a complex to transduce GDNF signal and to mediate GDNF function.
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