Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 157–183

Roles of transforming growth factor-α and related molecules in the nervous system


DOI: 10.1007/BF02742440

Cite this article as:
Xian, C.J. & Zhou, XF. Mol Neurobiol (1999) 20: 157. doi:10.1007/BF02742440


The epidermal growth factor (EGF) family of polypeptides is regulators for tissue development and repair, and is characterized by the fact that their mature forms are proteolytically derived from their integral membrane precursors. This article reviews roles of the prominent members of the EGF family (EGF, transforming growth factor-alpha [TGF-α] and heparin-binding EGF [HB-EGF]) and the related neuregulin family in the nerve system. These polypeptides, produced by neurons and glial cells, play an important role in the development of the nervous system, stimulating proliferation, migration, and differentiation of neuronal, glial, and Schwann precursor cells. These peptides are also neurotrophic, enhancing survival and inhibiting apoptosis of post-mitotic neurons, probably acting directly through receptors on neurons, or indirectly via stimulating glial proliferation and glial synthesis of other molecules such as neurotrophic factors. TGF-α, EGF, and neuregulins are involved in mediating glial-neuronal and axonal-glial interactions, regulating nerve injury responses, and participating in injury-associated astrocytic gliosis, brain tumors, and other disorders of the nerve system. Although the collective roles of the EGF family (as well as those of the neuregulins) are shown to be essential for the nervous system, redundancy may exist among members of the EGF family.

Index Entries

EGFTGF-αneuregulinErbBneuronsgliaproliferationdifferentiationsurvivalneurotrophic factors

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Physiology and Centre for NeuroscienceFlinders University of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Child Health Research InstituteNorth AdelaideAustralia