Decreased phosphorylation of neurofilaments in mice lacking myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) was shown to be associated with decreased activities of extracellular-signal regulated kinases (ERK1/2) and cyclin-dependent kinase-5 (cdk5). These in vivo changes could be caused directly by the absence of a MAG-mediated signaling pathway or secondary to a general disruption of the Schwann cell-axon junction that prevents signaling by other molecules. Therefore, in vitro experimental paradigms of MAG interaction with neurons were used to determine if MAG directly influences expression and phosphorylation of cytoskeletal proteins and their associated kinases. COS-7 cells stably transfected with MAG or with empty vector were co-cultured with primary dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Total amounts of the middle molecular weight neurofilament subunit (NF-M), microtubule-associated protein 1B (MAP1B), MAP2, and tau were up-regulated significantly in DRG neurons in the presence of MAG. There was also increased expression of phosphorylated high molecular weight neurofilament subunit (NF-H), NF-M, and MAP1B. Additionally, in similar in vitro paradigms, total and phosphorylated NF-M were increased significantly in PC12 neurons co-cultured with MAG-expressing COS cells or treated with a soluble MAG Fc-chimera. The increased expression of phosphorylated cytoskeletal proteins in the presence of MAG in vitro was associated with increased activities of ERK 1/2 and cdk5. We propose that interaction of MAG with an axonal receptor(s) induces a signal transduction cascade that regulates expression of cytoskeletal proteins and their phosphorylation by these proline-directed protein kinases.