IJPPP Copyright © 2009-All rights reserved. Published by e-Century Publishing Corporation, Madison, WI 53711
Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol 2012;4(4):188-200

Review Article
Regulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor
expression in neurons

Fei Zheng, Xianju Zhou, Changjong Moon, Hongbing Wang

Department of Biochemistry, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN38105, USA; Department of
Neurology, Changzhou No. 2 People’s Hospital, The affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, 29 Xinglong
Alley, Changzhou, 213003, People’s Republic of China; College of Veterinary Medicine, Chonnam National University
and Animal Medical Institute, Gwangju 500-757, South Korea; Department of Physiology, Neuroscience
Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

Received December 3, 2012; Accepted December 22, 2012; Epub December 26, 2012; Published December 31,

Abstract: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays critical roles in many aspects of brain functions, including
cell survival, differentiation, development, learning and memory. Aberrant BDNF expression has also been implicated
in numerous neurological disorders. Thus, significant effort has been made to understand how BDNF transcription
as well as translation is regulated. Interestingly, the BDNF gene structure suggests that multiple promoters
control its transcription, leading to the existence of distinct mRNA species. Further, the long- and short-tail of the 3’
un-translated region may dictate different sub-cellular BDNF mRNA targeting and translational responses following
neuronal stimulation. This review aims to summarize the main findings that demonstrate how neuronal activities
specifically up-regulate the transcription and translation of unique BDNF transcripts. We also discuss some of the
recent reports that emphasize the epigenetic regulation of BDNF transcription. (IJPPP1212001).

Keywords: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, calcium-responsive element, cAMP-responsive element, intracellular
signaling, neuroplasticity, transcription and translation

Address all correspondence to:
Dr. Hongbing Wang,
567 Wilson Road, Room 3179 BPS
Department of Physiology
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824.
Tel: 517-8845119; Fax: 517-3555125
E-mail: wangho@msu.edu