, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 269-284

14-3-3 proteins in neuronal development and function

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The 14-3-3 proteins are small, cytosolic, evolutionaritly conserved proteins expressed abundantly in the nervous system. Although they were discovered more than 30 yr ago, their function in the nervous system has remained enigmatic. Several recent studies have helped to clarify their biological function. Crystallographic investigations have revealed that 14-3-3 proteins exist as dimers and that they contain a specific region for binding to other proteins. The interacting proteins, in turn, contain a 14-3-3 binding motif; proteins that interact with 14-3-3 dimers include PKC and Raf, protein kinases with critical roles in neuronal signaling. These proteins are capable of activating Raf in vitro, and this role has been verified by in vivo studies inDrosophila. Most interestingly, mutations in theDrosophila 14-3-3 genes disrupt neuronal differentiation, synaptic plasticity, and behavioral plasticity, establishing a role for these proteins in the development and function of the nervous system.