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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Spatio-temporal expression of a novel neuron-derived neurotrophic factor (NDNF) in mouse brains during development

Xiu-Li Kuang1, Xiao-Mei Zhao1, Hai-Fang Xu2, Yuan-Yuan Shi2, Jin-Bo Deng1 and Guo-Tao Sun2*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Neurobiology, Medical School, Henan University, KaiFeng, PR China, 475004

2 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Molecular Medicine, Medical School, Henan University, KaiFeng, PR China, 475004

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2010, 11:137  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-137

Published: 25 October 2010



Neuron-derived neurotrophic factor (NDNF) is evolutionarily well conserved, being present in invertebrate animals such as the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, as well as in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Multiple cysteines are conserved between species and secondary structure prediction shows that NDNF is mainly composed of beta-strands. In this study, we aimed to investigate the function of NDNF.


NDNF is a glycosylated, disulfide-bonded secretory protein that contains a fibronectin type III domain. NDNF promoted migration and growth and elicited neurite outgrowth of mouse hippocampal neurons in culture. NDNF also protected cultured hippocamal neurons against excitotoxicity and amyloid beta-peptide toxicity. Western blotting showed that NDNF was exclusively expressed in the brain and spinal cord. Immunostaining indicated that NDNF was expressed by neurons and not by astrocytes. Cajal-Retzius cells, cortex neurons, hippocampus neurons, olfactory mitral cells, cerebellar purkinje cells, cerebellar granular cells and spinal neurons were found to be NDNF-positive. NDNF expression was observed in the neurons during development.


The results of this study indicated that NDNF is a novel neurotrophic factor derived from neurons that may be useful in the treatment of neuronal degeneration diseases and nerve injuries.