Decreased Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 (cdk5) Activity Is Accompanied by Redistribution of cdk5 and Cytoskeletal Proteins and Increased Cytoskeletal Protein Phosphorylation in p35 Null Mice

Janice L. Hallows, Ken Chen, Ronald A. DePinho, Inez Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

86 Scopus citations


Cdk5/p35 has been implicated in cytoskeletal protein phosphorylation in normal brain and in many human neurodegenerative disorders. Yet, mouse models of cdk5/p35 hyperactivity have not yielded corresponding changes in cytoskeletal protein phosphorylation. To elucidate the relationship between p35, cdk5, and the neuronal cytoskeleton, we deleted the p35 gene in mice having a pure C57BL/6 background. We found that p35 deficiency leads to a 38% reduction of cdk5 activity in adult brain. In addition, loss of p35 causes an anterograde redistribution of cdk5 toward peripheral neuronal processes. The unusual presence of nonphosphorylated neurofilament (NF) in aberrant axon fascicles and the relocation of tau and MAP2B from cell bodies and proximal neuronal processes to more distal sites of the neuropil in p35-/- mouse brain implicate p35 in neuronal trafficking, particularly in dynein-driven retrograde transport. In many axons of normal brain, cdk5 fails to colocalize with phosphorylated cytoskeletal protein epitopes. This observation, together with an unexpected increase of NF, tau, and MAP2B phosphoepitopes accompanying the decreased cdk5 activity in p35-/- mice, supports the idea that cdk5 does not phosphorylate cytoskeletal proteins directly. Rather, in structures where cdk5 does colocalize with phosphorylated cytoskeletal protein epitopes, it may function as a negative regulator of other proline-directed kinases that directly phosphorylate the proteins. Evidence for increased glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) activity inp35-/- mice suggests that GSK3 β may be one such kinase regulated by cdk5. Our studies illustrate that p35 regulates the subcellular distribution of cdk5 and cytoskeletal proteins in neurons and that cdk5 has a hierarchical role in regulating the phosphorylation and function of cytoskeletal proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10633-10644
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - Nov 19 2003



  • Cdk5
  • Cytoskeletal pathology
  • MAP2 phosphorylation
  • Neurofilament phosphorylation
  • Tau phosphorylation
  • Trafficking
  • Transport
  • p35

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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