Download the full-sized PDF of Retrograde signaling mechanisms of nerve growth factor regulating the survival and apoptosis of sympathetic neuronsDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

Retrograde signaling mechanisms of nerve growth factor regulating the survival and apoptosis of sympathetic neurons Open Access


Other title
retrograde signaling
nerve growh factor
glycogen synthase kinase-3
sympathetic neuron
retrograde apoptotic signal
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Mok, Sue-Ann
Supervisor and department
Campenot, Robert B. (Cell Biology)
Examining committee member and department
Rachubinski, Richard A. (Cell Biology)
Melancon, Paul (Cell Biology)
Kaplan, David R. (Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto)
Todd, Kathryn (Psychiatry)
Campenot, Robert B. (Cell Biology)
Department of Cell Biology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The survival of several neuron populations during development, including sympathetic neurons, is strictly regulated by neurotrophins such as nerve growth factor (NGF) released from innervation targets. NGF activates its receptor, TrkA, at axon terminals, to generate signals that are transmitted retrogradely to cell bodies to induce signaling cascades regulating survival. A general view of this process is that NGF generates retrograde survival signals that, when delivered to cell bodies, induce downstream survival signaling that prevents apoptosis. A retrograde survival signal proposed to be necessary for sympathetic neuron survival consists of endosomes containing NGF and phosphorylated TrkA. For this signal, phosphorylated TrkA arriving at cell bodies is required to initiate survival signaling. Studies have tested the necessity of TrkA phosphorylation in the cell bodies for survival: results from different studies contradict each other. Moreover, the Trk inhibitor, K252a, used in these studies, has reported non-specific effects. Using an alternate Trk inhibitor, Gö6976, data presented in this thesis demonstrates that NGF can promote survival by retrograde signaling that does not require TrkA phosphorylation in the cell bodies. These retrograde signals may be composed of signaling molecules activated downstream of TrkA in axons since pro-survival molecules downstream of TrkA, Akt and CREB, were found activated in the cell bodies/proximal axons. Data presented in this thesis also reveals a fundamentally different mechanism for how NGF promotes sympathetic neuron survival: a retrograde apoptotic signal that is suppressed by NGF. NGF withdrawal from axons induced the “axon apoptotic signal” that was retrogradely transmitted to cell bodies to activate a key pro-apoptotic molecule, c-jun. The axon apoptotic signal, which was blocked by the kinase inhibitors rottlerin and chelerythrine, was necessary for apoptosis in response to NGF deprivation. Evidence GSK3 is involved in generation or transmission of the axon apoptotic signal was provided by experiments with GSK3 inhibitors and siRNA. The axon apoptotic signal discovery refutes the previous view that NGF acting on axon terminals supports survival exclusively by generating retrograde survival signals. The axon apoptotic signal has broad implications for understanding nervous system development and other conditions where neuronal apoptosis occurs, such as neurotrauma and neurodegenerative diseases.
License granted by Sue-Ann Mok ( on 2009-06-28T18:56:11Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (Portable Document Format)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 8563177
Last modified: 2015:10:12 16:52:40-06:00
Filename: Mok_SueAnn_Fall 2009.pdf
Original checksum: c57f17a549c53d187f396c0558f2d899
Well formed: true
Valid: true
File title: Microsoft Word - thesis ver34 for pdf.docx
File author: Sue-Ann
Page count: 249
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date