Cdk5 regulates axonal transport and phosphorylation of neurofilaments in cultured neurons

Thomas B. Shea*, Jason T. Yabe, Daniela Ortiz, Aurea Pimenta, Patti Loomis, Robert D. Goldman, Niranjana Amin, Harish C. Pant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Phosphorylation has long been considered to regulate neurofilament (NF) interaction and axonal transport, and, in turn, to influence axonal stability and their maturation to large-caliber axons. Cdk5, a serine/threonine kinase homologous to the mitotic cyclin-dependent kinases, phosphorylates NF subunits in intact cells. In this study, we used two different haptenized NF subunits and manipulated cdk5 activity by microinjection, transfection and pharmacological inhibition to monitor the effect of Cdk5-p35 on NF dynamics and transport. We demonstrate that overexpression of cdk5 increases NF phosphorylation and inhibits NF axonal transport, whereas inhibition both reduces NF phosphorylation and enhances NF axonal transport in cultured chicken dorsal-root-ganglion neurons. Large phosphorylated-NF 'bundles' were prominent in perikarya following cdk5 overexpression. These findings suggest that Cdk5-p35 activity regulates normal NF distribution and that overexpression of Cdk5p35 induces perikaryal accumulation of phosphorylated-NFs similar to those observed under pathological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-941
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 29 2004


  • Axonal transport
  • Cdk5
  • Neurofibrillary pathology
  • Neurofilaments
  • Phosphorylation
  • p35

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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