Directing traffic in neural cells: determinants of receptor tyrosine kinase localization and cellular responses


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Teresa L. Wood, Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, UH Cancer Center, University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey Medical School, 205 South Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.


The trafficking of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) to distinct subcellular locations is essential for the specificity and fidelity of signal transduction and biological responses. This is particularly important in the PNS and CNS in which RTKs mediate key events in the development and maintenance of neurons and glia through a wide range of neural processes, including survival, proliferation, differentiation, neurite outgrowth, and synaptogenesis. The mechanisms that regulate the targeting of RTKs to their subcellular destinations for appropriate signal transduction, however, are still elusive. In this review, we discuss evidence for the spatial organization of signaling machinery into distinct subcellular compartments, as well as the role for ligand specificity, receptor sorting signals, and lipid raft microdomains in RTK targeting and the resultant cellular responses in neural cells.