The Trk family of tyrosine kinases encodes receptors for nerve growth factor-related neurotrophins. Here we present a developmental expression study of trkC, which encodes a receptor for neurotrophin-3 (NT-3). Like the related genes, trk and trkB, trkC is expressed primarily in neural lineages although the pattern is complex and includes non-neuronal cells. Direct comparison with trk and trkB developmental expression patterns permits the following observations. (1) trkC is expressed in novel neural tissues where other Trk genes are silent. (2) Some tissues appear to coexpress trkB and trkC receptors in the embryo and in the adult. (3) trkC expression can be detected in the gastrulating embryo. These data provide insights into the role of Trk-family receptors and nerve growth factor-related neurotrophins during development and suggest that, in addition to regulating neuronal survival and differentiation, the neurotrophin/Trk receptor system may have broader physiological effects. Finally, interspecific mouse backcrosses have been used to map the location of each of the Trk genes on mouse chromosomes. Alignment with available chromosomal maps identify possible linkage between the Trk genes and known neurological mutations.

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