Neurotrophins constitute a family of growth factors that play a key role in the regulation of
the development and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems. A common feature of all
the neurotrophins is their synthesis in cells as long precursors (pre-pro-neurotrophins) that contain an
N-terminal signal peptide, a following propeptide and the mature neurotrophin. Although the signal
peptide functions have been well studied, the role of neurotrophin propeptides is not so clear. Here, we
briefly summarize the biochemistry of neurotrophin propeptides, including their role as foldingassistants
for the mature factor and their role in processing and in secretion of neurotrophins. In the
main part of the review we summarize our current state of knowledge of the biological activity of neurotrophin propeptides,
their possible mechanisms of action, and their potential influence on the activity of the mature neurotrophins.
Keywords: Mature factor, neurotrophin, precursor, pro-neurotrophin, processing, propeptide.
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