A novel CDK5-dependent pathway for regulating GSK3 activity and kinesin-driven motility in neurons. Academic Article uri icon


  • Neuronal transmission of information requires polarized distribution of membrane proteins within axonal compartments. Membrane proteins are synthesized and packaged in membrane-bounded organelles (MBOs) in neuronal cell bodies and later transported to axons by microtubule-dependent motor proteins. Molecular mechanisms underlying targeted delivery of MBOs to discrete axonal subdomains (i.e. nodes of Ranvier or presynaptic terminals) are poorly understood, but regulatory pathways for microtubule motors may be an essential step. In this work, pharmacological, biochemical and in vivo experiments define a novel regulatory pathway for kinesin-driven motility in axons. This pathway involves enzymatic activities of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (CDK5), protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3). Inhibition of CDK5 activity in axons leads to activation of GSK3 by PP1, phosphorylation of kinesin light chains by GSK3 and detachment of kinesin from transported cargoes. We propose that regulating the activity and localization of components in this pathway allows nerve cells to target organelle delivery to specific subcellular compartments. Implications of these findings for pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease are discussed.

publication date

  • June 2, 2004

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