Neurons are highly polarized cells that rely on the intracellular transport of organelles. This process is regulated by molecular motors such as dynein and kinesins and the Rab family of monomeric GTPases that together help move cargo along microtubules in dendrites, somas, and axons. Rab5-Rab11 GTPases regulate receptor trafficking along early-recycling endosomes, which is a process that determines the intracellular signaling output of different signaling pathways, including those triggered by BDNF binding to its tyrosine kinase receptor TrkB. BDNF is a well-recognized neurotrophic factor that regulates experience-dependent plasticity in different circuits in the brain. The internalization of the BDNF/TrkB complex results in signaling endosomes that allow local signaling in dendrites and presynaptic terminals, nuclear signaling in somas and dynein-mediated long-distance signaling from axons to cell bodies. In this review, we briefly discuss the organization of the endocytic pathway and how Rab11-recycling endosomes interact with other endomembrane systems. We further expand upon the roles of the Rab11-recycling pathway in neuronal plasticity. Then, we discuss the BDNF/TrkB signaling pathways and their functional relationships with the postendocytic trafficking of BDNF, including axonal transport, emphasizing the role of BDNF signaling endosomes, particularly Rab5-Rab11 endosomes, in neuronal plasticity. Finally, we discuss the evidence indicating that the dysfunction of the early-recycling pathway impairs BDNF signaling, contributing to several neurodegenerative diseases.
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