Neuronal colocalization of mRNAs for neurotrophins and their receptors in the developing central nervous system suggests a potential for autocrine interactions.
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Development and survival of neurons in the central nervous system are dependent on the activity of a variety of endogenous neurotrophic agents. Using combined isotopic and nonisotopic in situ hybridization histochemistry, we have found that subsets of neurons within the developing forebrain coexpress the mRNAs for both neurotrophins (nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and neurotrophin 3) and their receptors (p75NGFR, TrkA, and TrkB). The colocalization of mRNA for neurotrophin receptors and their ligands in presumptive neurotrophin target neurons suggests the potential for autocrine and paracrine mechanisms of action during development. Such mechanisms may ensure the onset of differentiation and survival of specific subsets of neurons prior to and following target innervation.