Synopses & Reviews
This book compares and contrasts the biochemistry and biology of nerve growth factor (NGF) and acidic- and basic-fibroblast growth factors in the hope that these extensively characterized factors may serve as useful models for the growing list of less well characterized neurotrophic factors. Nerve growth factor represents one member of a family of several structurally and functionally related peptides; the fibroblast growth factors represent a second large family of peptides. Each family of factors illustrates the important concept that individual peptide factors may have a diverse array of functions on a variety of different cell types. The book thoroughly covers a broad range of topics from the biochemistry of synthesis, processing and release of the factors, to the biochemistry of cell surface receptors and signal transduction mechanisms, to the regulation of expression of factors and receptors in development, to discussions of specific functional roles in the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. The volume will be of interest to anyone concerned with the mechanisms governing neural development as well as to those interested in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease.
A host of environmental factors regulate the embryonic development of neurons. In adults, the survival of neurons, the regeneration of damaged axons, and plastic changes in axonal arborization are also controlled by a complex array of environmental cues. An important category of regulatory influences involves target-derived hormone-like peptides act- ing on neuronal cell surface receptors. Nerve growth factor (NGF) was the first such factor to be characterized (LEVI- MONTALCINI and HAMBURGER 1953) and has served as the model against which all similar factors are compared. A number of factors with properties similar to NGF have been described with activities toward differing populations of neurons. Many of these factors have been characterized only poorly at the biochemical level. However, several factors have been charac- terized to the extent that molecular clones are available and complete amino acid sequences are known. These include: three structurally related factors, NGF itself (SCOTT et al. 1983), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (LEIBROCK et al. 1989), and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) (MAISONPIERRE et al. 1990; HOHN et al. 1990); ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) (LIN et al. 1989) and a second set of structural homologs; acidic and basic fibroblast growth factors (aFGF, bFGF) (ABRAHAM et al. 1986; JAYE et al. 1986). Investigators have cloned the receptors for NGF (JOHNSON et al. 1986; RADEKE et al. 1987) and FGF (LEE et al. 1989).
The number of known neurotrophic peptide factors is rapidly expanding yet few are well characterized. Neuronal Growth Factors discusses in detail current understanding of biochemical and biological aspects of two of the best characterized factors.