Neurotrophin 3 stimulates the differentiation of motoneurons from avian neural tube progenitor cells

Lea Averbuch-Heller, Merav Pruginin, Nitza Kahane, Pantelis Tsoulfas, Luis Parada, Arnon Rosenthal, Chaya Kalcheim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Neurotrophin 3 (NT-3) promotes differentiation of neural tube progenitors into motoneurons expressing the BEN/SC1 and islet-1 epitopes. A 1.75- to 6.7- fold increase in BEN-positive motoneurons was obtained when quail neural tube cells were cultured with NT-3 at 0.1-10 ng/ml, respectively. In contrast, the overall number of cells, as well as the proportion of motoneurons that developed from cycling precursors, did not change. Addition of NT-3 at 1 ng/ml to cells obtained from ventral half-neural tubes promoted a 2.5-fold stimulation in motoneuron number, confirming the specificity of the effect. Moreover, NT-3 had no significant effect on survival of differentiated avian motoneurons. The distribution of trkC mRNA, which encodes the high-affinity receptor for NT-3, is consistent with these findings. trkC expression is homogeneous in the embryonic day 2 (E2) neural tube, becomes restricted to the mantle layer on E3, where differentiation occurs, and disappears from the ventral third of the E4-E5 spinal cord right before the onset of normal motoneuron death. These results suggest that NT-3 and trkC regulate early neurogenesis in the avian central nervous system.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3247-3251
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - 12 Apr 1994


  • avian embryo
  • survival
  • trophic factors
  • tyrosine kinase receptor


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