Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 increases perikaryal neurofilament phosphorylation and inhibits neurofilament axonal transport in response to oxidative stress. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (cdk5) phosphorylates the high molecular weight neurofilament (NF) protein. Overexpression of cdk5 inhibits NF axonal transport and induces perikaryal accumulation of disordered phospho-NF cables. Experimental and clinical motor neuron disease is characterized by oxidative stress, increased cdk5 activity, and accumulation of phospho-NFs within perikarya or proximal axons. Because oxidative stress increases cdk5 activity in experimental motor neuron disease, we examined whether oxidative stress induced cdk5-mediated NF phosphorylation. Treatment of cultured neuronal cells with hydrogen peroxide inhibited axonal transport of green fluorescent protein-tagged NF subunits and induced perikaryal accumulation of NF phosphoepitopes normally confined to axons. These effects were prevented by treatment with the cdk5 inhibitor roscovitine or transfection with a construct expressing the endogenous cdk5 inhibitor peptide. These findings indicate that oxidative stress can compromise NF dynamics via hyperactivation of cdk5 and suggest that antioxidants may alleviate multiple aspects of neuropathology in motor neuron disease.

publication date

  • June 15, 2004