Artemin, neurturin and persephin are members of the GDNF family of ligands that also includes glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). GDNF family proteins are distant members of the TGF-beta superfamily. Artemin promotes the survival and growth of various peripheral and central neurons, including sympathetic and dopaminergic neurons. Neurturin exerts a positive effect on the survival of a variety of neurons and possibly other cell types. Persephin promotes the survival and growth of central dopaminergic and motor neurons, and is also involved in kidney development.
The GDNF family signals through a multimolecular protein complex that includes receptors of the GFR-alpha family and the RET receptor tyrosine kinase. NCAM may also act as a GDNF family receptor. These neurotrophic factors exhibit an array of biological activities ranging from the promotion of cell survival to the enhancement of neurite outgrowth.