PROSITE documentation PDOC00221
Nerve growth factor family signature and profile


Nerve growth factor (NGF or β-NGF) is a vertebrate protein that stimulates division and differentiation of sympathetic and embryonic sensory neurons [1,2]. NGF is a protein of about 120 residues that is cleaved from a larger precursor molecule. It contains six cysteines all involved in intrachain disulfide bonds. A schematic representation of the structure of NGF is shown below:

                                    |                        |
                                    |    *******             |
              |                          |     |               |
              +--------------------------|-----+               |
'C': conserved cysteine involved in a disulfide bond.
'*': position of the pattern.

Some proteins have been found [3] to be structurally and functionally related to NGF, these are:

  • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes the survival of neuronal populations all located either in the central nervous system or directly connected to it.
  • Neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), a protein that seems to promote the survival of visceral and proprioceptive sensory neurons.
  • Neurotrophins-4/5 (NT-4/5), which elicit neurite outgrowth from explanted dorsal root ganglia and could play a role in oogenesis and/or early embryogenesis.
  • Neurotrophin-6.
  • Neurotrophin-7 from zebrafish.

The pattern we have developed for the NGF family spans the central region of these proteins and include two of the six cysteines involved in disulfide bonds.

Last update:

April 2006 / Pattern revised.


Technical section

PROSITE methods (with tools and information) covered by this documentation:

NGF_2, PS50270; Nerve growth factor family profile  (MATRIX)

NGF_1, PS00248; Nerve growth factor family signature  (PATTERN)


1AuthorsLevi-Montalcini R.
SourceScience 237:1154-1162(1987).

2AuthorsBradshaw R.A. Blundell T.L. Lapatto R. McDonald N.Q. Murray-Rust J.
TitleNerve growth factor revisited.
SourceTrends Biochem. Sci. 18:48-52(1993).
PubMed ID8488558

3AuthorsLo D.C.
TitleNGF takes shape.
SourceCurr. Biol. 2:67-69(1992).
PubMed ID15335999

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