Weak and ultra-weak protein-protein association play a role in molecular recognition, and can drive spontaneous self-assembly and aggregation. Such interactions are difficult to detect experimentally, and are a challenge to the force field and sampling technique. A method is proposed to identify low-population protein-protein binding modes in aqueous solution. The method is designed to identify preferential first-encounter complexes from which the final complex(es) at equilibrium evolves. A continuum model is used to represent the effects of the solvent, which accounts for short- and long-range effects of water exclusion and for liquid-structure forces at protein/liquid interfaces. These effects control the behavior of proteins in close proximity and are optimized based on binding enthalpy data and simulations. An algorithm is described to construct a biasing function for self-adaptive configurational-bias Monte Carlo of a set of interacting proteins. The function allows mixing large and local changes in the spatial distribution of proteins, thereby enhancing sampling of relevant microstates. The method is applied to three binary systems. Generalization to multiprotein complexes is discussed.
protein-protein association; weak and ultra-weak interactions; macromolecular interfaces; aqueous interfaces; long-range solvent effects
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) is accompanied with brain atrophy. In these patients, impairment of adult neurogenesis and neurite outgrowth in the hippocampus may contribute to the cognitive dysfunction. Although running exercises can enhance neurogenesis and normalize neurite outgrowth, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well understood. The HIV envelope protein, gp120, has been shown to impair neurogenesis. Using a gp120 transgenic mouse model, we demonstrate that exercise stimulated neural progenitor cell (NPC) proliferation in the hippocampal dentate gyrus and increased the survival rate and generation of newborn cells. However sustained exercise activity was necessary since the effects were reversed by detraining. Exercise also normalized dendritic outgrowth of neurons. Furthermore, it also increased the expression of hippocampal brainderived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and normalized hyperactivation of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5). Hyper-activated Cdk5 or gp120 treatment led to aberrant neurite outgrowth and BDNF treatment normalized the neurite outgrowth in NPC cultures. These results suggest that sustained exercise has trophic activity on the neuronal lineage which is mediated by Cdk5 modulation of the BDNF pathway.
HIV-gp120; exercise; adult neurogenesis; dendritic arborization; BDNF; Cdk5
Protein phosphorylation is the most common post-translational modification that regulates several pivotal functions in cells. Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) is a proline-directed serine/threonine kinase which is mostly active in the nervous system. It regulates several biological processes such as neuronal migration, cytoskeletal dynamics, axonal guidance and synaptic plasticity among others. In search for novel substrates of Cdk5 in the brain we performed quantitative phosphoproteomics analysis, isolating phosphoproteins from whole brain derived from E18.5 Cdk5+/+ and Cdk5−/− embryos, using an Immobilized Metal-Ion Affinity Chromatography (IMAC), which specifically binds to phosphorylated proteins. The isolated phosphoproteins were eluted and isotopically labeled for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) and mass spectrometry identification. We found 40 proteins that showed decreased phosphorylation at Cdk5−/− brains. In addition, out of these 40 hypophosphorylated proteins we characterized two proteins, :MARCKS (Myristoylated Alanine-Rich protein Kinase C substrate) and Grin1 (G protein regulated inducer of neurite outgrowth 1). MARCKS is known to be phosphorylated by Cdk5 in chick neural cells while Grin1 has not been reported to be phosphorylated by Cdk5. When these proteins were overexpressed in N2A neuroblastoma cell line along with p35, serine phosphorylation in their Cdk5 motifs was found to be increased. In contrast, treatments with roscovitine, the Cdk5 inhibitor, resulted in an opposite effect on serine phosphorylation in N2A cells and primary hippocampal neurons transfected with MARCKS. In summary, the results presented here identify Grin 1 as novel Cdk5 substrate and confirm previously identified MARCKS as a a bona fide Cdk5 substrate.
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) is a unique member of the serine/threonine kinase family. This kinase plays an important role in neuronal development, and deregulation of its activity leads to neurodegenerative disorders. Cdk5 also serves an important function in the regulation of nociceptive signaling. Our previous studies revealed that the expression of Cdk5 and its activator, p35, is upregulated in nociceptive neurons during peripheral inflammation. The aim of the present study was to characterize the involvement of Cdk5 in orofacial pain. Since mechanical hyperalgesia is the distinctive sign of many orofacial pain conditions, we adapted an existing orofacial stimulation test to assess the behavioral responses to mechanical stimulation in the trigeminal region of the transgenic mice with either reduced or increased Cdk5 activity.
Mice overexpressing or lacking p35, an activator of Cdk5, showed altered phenotype in response to noxious mechanical stimulation in the trigeminal area. Mice with increased Cdk5 activity displayed aversive behavior to mechanical stimulation as indicated by a significant decrease in reward licking events and licking time. The number of reward licking/facial contact events was significantly decreased in these mice as the mechanical intensity increased. By contrast, mice deficient in Cdk5 activity displayed mechanical hypoalgesia.
Collectively, our findings demonstrate for the first time the important role of Cdk5 in orofacial mechanical nociception. Modulation of Cdk5 activity in primary sensory neurons makes it an attractive potential target for the development of novel analgesics that could be used to treat multiple orofacial pain conditions.
Cdk5; p35; Trigeminal ganglia; Orofacial pain; Mouse model
The giant fiber system of the squid Loligo pealei mediates the escape response and is an important neurobiological model. Here, we identified an abundant transcript in the stellate ganglion (SG) that encodes a FMRFamide precursor, and characterized FMRFamide and FI/LRF-amide peptides. To determine whether FMRFamide plays a role in the adult and hatchling giant fiber system, we studied the expression of the Fmrf gene and FMRFamide peptides. In stage 29 embryos and stage 30 hatchlings, Ffmr transcripts and FMRFamide peptide were low to undetectable in the SG, in contrast to groups of neurons intensely expressing the Fmrf gene in several brain lobes, including those that innervate the SG. In the adult SG the Fmrf gene was highly expressed, but the FMRFamide peptide was in low abundance. Intense staining for FMRFamide in the adult SG was confined to microneurons and fibers in the neuropil and to small fibers surrounding giant axons in stellar nerves. This shows that the Fmrf gene in the SG is strongly regulated post-hatching, and suggests that the FMRFamide precursor is incompletely processed in the adult SG. The data suggest that the SG only employs the Fmrf gene post-hatching and restricts the biosynthesis of FMRFamide, demonstrating that this peptide is not a major transmitter of the giant fiber system. This contrasts with brain lobes that engage FMRFamide embryonically as a regulatory peptide in multiple neuronal systems, including the afferent fibers that innervate the SG. The biological significance of these mechanisms may be to generate diversity within Fmrf-expressing systems in cephalopods.
FMRFamide; Cephalopods; Mollusk; Stellate ganglion; Giant axon; Prohormone processing
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most devastating chronic neurodegenerative disease in adults, causes dementia and eventually, death of the affected individuals. Clinically, AD is characterized as late-onset, age-dependent cognitive decline due to loss of neurons in cortex and hippocampus. The pathologic corollary of these symptoms is the formation of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Senile plaques are formed due to accumulation of oligomeric amyloid beta (Aβ) forming fibrillary plaques. This occurs due to the amyloidogenic processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by various secretases. On the other hand, neurofibrillary tangles are formed due to hyperphosphorylation of cytoskeleton proteins like tau and neurofilament. Both are hyperphosphorylated by cyclin-dependent kinase-5 (Cdk5) and are part of the paired helical filament (PHF), an integral part of neurofibrillary tangles. Unlike other cyclin-dependent kinases, Cdk5 plays a very important role in the neuronal development. Cdk5 gets activated by its neuronal activators p35 and p39. Upon stress, p35 and p39 are cleaved by calpain resulting in truncated products as p25 and p29. Association of Cdk5/p25 is longer and uncontrolled causing aberrant hyperphosphorylation of various substrates of Cdk5 like APP, tau and neurofilament, leading to neurodegenerative pathology like AD. Additionally recent evidence has shown increased levels of p25, Aβ, hyperactivity of Cdk5, phosphorylated tau and neurofilament in human AD brains. This review briefly describes the above-mentioned aspects of involvement of Cdk5 in the pathology of AD and at the end summarizes the advances in Cdk5 as a therapeutic target.
Cyclin dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5); Hyperphosphorylation; Neurodegeneration; Alzheimer’s disease; Plaques; Tangles
Cdk5/p25 hyperactivity has been demonstrated to lead to neuron apoptosis and degenerations. Chronic exposure to high glucose (HG) results in hyperactivity of Cdk5 and reduced insulin secretion. Here, we set out to determine whether abnormal upregulation of Cdk5/p25 activity may be induced in a pancreatic beta cell line, Min6 cells. We first confirmed that p25 were induced in overexpressed p35 cells treated with HG and increased time course dependence. Next, we showed that no p25 was detected under short time HG stimulation (4–12 hrs), however was detectable in the long exposure in HG cells (24 hrs and 48 hrs). Cdk5 activity in the above cells was much higher than low glucose treated cells and resulted in more than 50% inhibition of insulin secretion. We confirmed these results by overexpression of p25 in Min6 cells. As in cortical neurons, CIP, a small peptide, inhibited Cdk5/p25 activity and restored insulin secretion. The same results were detected in co-infection of dominant negative Cdk5 (DNCdk5) with p25. CIP also reduced beta cells apoptosis induced by Cdk5/p25. These studies indicate that Cdk5/p25 hyperactivation deregulates insulin secretion and induces cell death in pancreatic beta cells and suggests that CIP may serve as a therapeutic agent for type 2 diabetes.
Recent studies have shown the involvement of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) in cell cycle regulation in postmitotic neurons. In this study, we demonstrate that Cdk5 and its co-activator p35 were detected in the nuclear fraction in neurons and Cdk5/p35 phosphorylated retinoblastoma (Rb) protein, a key protein controlling cell cycle re-entry. Cdk5/p35 phosphorylates Rb at the sites similar to those phosphorylated by Cdk4 and Cdk2. Furthermore, increased Cdk5 activity elevates activity of E2F transcription factor, which can trigger cell cycle re-entry, leading to neuronal cell death. A normal Cdk5 activity in neurons did not induce E2F activation, suggesting that Cdk5 does not induce cell cycle re-entry under normal conditions. Taken together, these results indicate that Cdk5 can regulate cell cycle by its ability to phosphorylate Rb. Most importantly, increased Cdk5 activity induces cell cycle re-entry, which is especially detrimental for survival of postmitotic neurons.
Cdk5; cell cycle; cell death; E2F transcription factor; neurons; phosphorylation; retinoblastoma protein
Cytoskeletal protein phosphorylation is frequently altered in neuropathologic states but little is known about changes during normal aging. Here we report that declining protein phosphatase activity, rather than activation of kinases, underlies aging-related neurofilament hyperphosphorylation. Purified PP2A or PP2B dephosphorylated the heavy neurofilament (NFH) subunit or its extensively phorphorylated carboxyl-terminal domain in vitro. In cultured primary hippocampal neurons, inhibiting either phosphatase induced NFH phosphorylation without activating known neurofilament kinases. Neurofilament phosphorylation in the mouse CNS, as reflected by levels of the RT-97 phosphoepitope associated with late axon maturation, more than doubled during the 12 month period after NFH expression plateaued at p21. This was accompanied by declines in levels and activity of PP2A but not PP2B, and no rise in activities of neurofilament kinases (Erk1,2, cdk5 and JNK1,2). Inhibiting PP2A in mice in vivo restored brain RT-97 to levels seen in young mice. Declining PP2A activity, therefore, can account for rising neurofilament phosphorylation in maturing brain, potentially compounding similar changes associated with adult-onset neurodegenerative diseases.
neurofilament; phosphorylation; dephosphorylation; kinases; phosphatases; maturation; aging; RT-97 epitope; immunoreactivity
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) activity is important for the migration and invasion of cancer cells. Our results indicate that in the lung one of the mechanisms that hASH1 regulates—migration—takes place through induction of Cdk5 activity. Our data suggest that Cdk5 and its activator p35 promote lung cancer cell migration through hASH1-mediated signaling.
Our previous data suggested that the human basic helix–loop–helix transcription factor achaete-scute homologue-1 (hASH1) may stimulate both proliferation and migration in the lung. In the CNS, cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) and its activator p35 are important for neuronal migration that is regulated by basic helix–loop–helix transcription factors. Cdk5/p35 may also play a role in carcinogenesis. In this study, we found that the neuronal activator p35 was commonly expressed in primary human lung cancers. Cdk5 and p35 were also expressed by several human lung cancer cell lines and coupled with migration and invasion. When the kinase activity was inhibited by the Cdk5 inhibitor roscovitine or dominant-negative (dn) Cdk5, the migration of lung cancer cells was reduced. In neuroendocrine cells expressing hASH1, such as a pulmonary carcinoid cell line, knocking down the gene expression by short hairpin RNA reduced the levels of Cdk5/p35, nuclear p35 protein, and migration. Furthermore, expression of hASH1 in lung adenocarcinoma cells normally lacking hASH1 increased p35/Cdk5 activity and enhanced cellular migration. We were also able to show that p35 was a direct target for hASH1. In conclusion, induction of Cdk5 activity is a novel mechanism through which hASH1 may regulate migration in lung carcinogenesis.
It has been demonstrated that oxidative stress has a ubiquitous role in neurodegenerative diseases. Major source of oxidative stress due to reactive oxygen species (ROS) is related to mitochondria as an endogenous source. Although there is ample evidence from tissues of patients with neurodegenerative disorders of morphological, biochemical, and molecular abnormalities in mitochondria, it is still not very clear whether the oxidative stress itself contributes to the onset of neurodegeneration or it is part of the neurodegenerative process as secondary manifestation. This paper begins with an overview of how oxidative stress occurs, discussing various oxidants and antioxidants, and role of oxidative stress in diseases in general. It highlights the role of oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The last part of the paper describes the role of oxidative stress causing deregulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) hyperactivity associated with neurodegeneration.
Cdk5 plays a role in nervous system development; its role in the initial stages of neural differentiation is poorly understood. We isolated neural stem cells from E13 Cdk5 WT and KO mouse and observed them as they switched from proliferating stage to neural differentiation. We show that Cdk5 phosphorylation of p27kip1 at Thr187 is crucial to neural differentiation.
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) plays a key role in the development of the mammalian nervous system; it phosphorylates a number of targeted proteins involved in neuronal migration during development to synaptic activity in the mature nervous system. Its role in the initial stages of neuronal commitment and differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs), however, is poorly understood. In this study, we show that Cdk5 phosphorylation of p27Kip1 at Thr187 is crucial to neural differentiation because 1) neurogenesis is specifically suppressed by transfection of p27Kip1 siRNA into Cdk5+/+ NSCs; 2) reduced neuronal differentiation in Cdk5−/− compared with Cdk5+/+ NSCs; 3) Cdk5+/+ NSCs, whose differentiation is inhibited by a nonphosphorylatable mutant, p27/Thr187A, are rescued by cotransfection of a phosphorylation-mimicking mutant, p27/Thr187D; and 4) transfection of mutant p27Kip1 (p27/187A) into Cdk5+/+ NSCs inhibits differentiation. These data suggest that Cdk5 regulates the neural differentiation of NSCs by phosphorylation of p27Kip1 at theThr187 site. Additional experiments exploring the role of Ser10 phosphorylation by Cdk5 suggest that together with Thr187 phosphorylation, Ser10 phosphorylation by Cdk5 promotes neurite outgrowth as neurons differentiate. Cdk5 phosphorylation of p27Kip1, a modular molecule, may regulate the progress of neuronal differentiation from cell cycle arrest through differentiation, neurite outgrowth, and migration.
As axons myelinate, establish a stable neurofilament network, and expand in caliber, neurofilament proteins are extensively phosphorylated along their C-terminal tails, which is recognized by the monoclonal antibody, RT-97. Here, we demonstrate in vivo that RT-97 immunureactivity is generated by phosphorylation at KSPXK or KSPXXXK motifs and requires flanking lysines at specific positions. ERK1,2 and pERK1,2 levels increase in parallel with phosphorylation at the RT-97 epitope during early post-natal brain development. Purified ERK1,2 generated RT-97 on both KSP motifs on recombinant NF-H tail domain proteins, while cdk5 phosphorylated only KSPXK motifs. RT-97 epitope generation in primary hippocampal neurons was regulated by extensive crosstalk among ERK1,2, JNK1,2 and cdk5. Inhibition of both ERK1,2 and JNK1,2 completely blocked RT-97 generation. Cdk5 influenced RT-97 generation indirectly by modulating JNK activation. In mice, cdk5 gene deletion did not significantly alter RT-97 IR or ERK1,2 and JNK activation. In mice lacking the cdk5 activator P35, the partial suppression of cdk5 activity increased RT-97 IR by activating ERK1,2. Thus, cdk5 influences RT-97 epitope generation partly by modulating ERKs and JNKs, which are the two principal kinases regulating neurofilament phosphorylation. The regulation of a single target by multiple protein kinases underscores the importance of monitoring other relevant kinases when the activity of a particular one is blocked.
phosphorylation; neurofilament; kinases; RT-97 epitope; crosstalk
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (cdk5) is a ubiquitous protein activated by specific activators, p35 and p39. Cdk5 regulates neuronal migration, differentiation, axonogenesis, synaptic transmission and apoptosis. However, its role in motor neuron development remains unexplored. Here, using gain and loss-of-function analyses in developing zebrafish embryos, we report that cdk5 plays a critical role in spinal and cranial motor neuron development. Cdk5 knockdown results in supernumerary spinal and cranial motor neurons. While a dominant negative, kinase-dead cdk5 promotes the generation of supernumerary motor neurons; over-expression of cdk5 suppresses motor neuron development. Thus, modulating cdk5 activity seems promising in inducing motor neuron development in vivo.
motor neuron; neurogenesis; protein kinase; morpholino knockdown; zebrafish
In normal neurons, neurofilament (NF) proteins are phosphorylated in the axonal compartment. However, in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), NF proteins are aberrantly hyperphosphorylated within the cell bodies. The aberrant hyperphosphorylation of NF accumulations found in neurodegeneration could be attributable to either deregulation of proline-directed Ser/Thr kinase(s) activity or downregulation of protein phosphatase(s) activity. In this study, we found that protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) expression is high in neuronal cell bodies and that inhibition of PP2A activity by okadaic acid (OA), microcystin LR (mLR), or fostriecin (Fos) leads to perikaryal hyperphosphorylation of NF. Peptidyl-prolyl isomerase Pin1 inhibits the dephosphorylation of NF by PP2A in vitro. In cortical neurons, Pin1 modulates the topographic phosphorylation of the proline-directed Ser/Thr residues within the tail domain of NF proteins by inhibiting the dephosphorylation by PP2A. Inhibition of Pin1 inhibits OA-induced aberrant perikaryal phosphorylation of NF. Treatment of cortical neurons with OA or Fos prevents the general anterograde transport of transfected green fluorescent protein–high-molecular-mass (NF-H) into axons caused by hyperphosphorylation of NF-H, and inhibition of Pin1 rescues this effect. Furthermore, inhibition of Pin1 inhibits the OA- or Fos-induced neuronal apoptosis. We show that OA-induced hyperphosphorylation of NF is a consequence of dephosphorylation of NF and is independent of c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, and cyclin-dependent kinase-5 pathways. This study highlights a novel signaling role of PP2A by Pin1 and implicates Pin1 as a therapeutic target to reduce aberrant phosphorylation of NF proteins in neurodegenerative disorders such as AD, PD, and ALS.
Notch signaling is critical for the development of the nervous system. Cdk5 is a neuronal kinase involved in neuronal development and phosphorylates a number of neuronal cytoskeletal proteins. To determine the relationship between Notch and cdk5 signaling, we tested the effects of the Notch inhibitor, DAPT (N-[N-(3,5-difluorophenacetyl)-1-alanyl]-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester) on cdk5 expression, activity and cytoskeletal protein distribution in the rat cortical neurons in primary cultures. Neurons treated with 10 μM DAPT showed attenuated cdk5 activity in spite of an upregulation of cdk5 protein level, consistent with a phenomenon reported in the cdk5 transgenic mice. Immunoblot and immunofluorescence analyses showed an increased level of cdk5, but not p35. Phospho-tau and phospho-neurofilament showed a shift from axons to cell bodies in DAPT-treated cells. DAPT-induced attenuation of cdk5 activity was restored by overexpression of p35 indicating that it interacted with cdk5 and upregulated nascent cdk5 activity. P35 overexpression also rescued DAPT-induced translocation of phospho-tau and phospho-neurofilament. Immunoprecipitation followed by immunoblotting demonstrated that DAPT does not disrupt cdk5 and p35 interaction. Moreover, DAPT upregulated neurogenin that is negatively regulated by Notch, and downregulated Hes1, a downstream target of Notch, suggesting that Notch signaling in the cortical neurons was disrupted. Semi-quantitative and quantitative RT-PCR (q-PCR) analyses confirmed that DAPT upregulated cdk5 expression at the transcriptional level. These results establish a link between Notch signaling and cdk5 expression regulating neuronal cytoskeletal protein dynamics.
Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (cdk5) is a ubiquitous protein activated by neuron-specific activators, p35 and p39. Cdk5 regulates neuronal migration, differentiation, axonogenesis, synaptic transmission and apoptosis. However, its role in primary neurogenesis remains unexplored. Here, we have cloned and characterized the zebrafish cdk5 ortholog. Zebrafish cdk5 is 96% identical to its human counterpart. In situ hybridization analyses demonstrated that zebrafish cdk5 transcripts are ubiquitously expressed as early as the blastula stage. At 11.5 hours of development, cdk5 transcripts were present in the neural plate at the domains where primary neurons begin to be specified. RT-PCR analyses showed equal levels of cdk5 transcripts up to 72 h of development. SiRNA-mediated cdk5 knockdown resulted in a reduction in primary sensory neurons of the trigeminal ganglia of the peripheral nervous system, suggesting that cdk5 plays a crucial role in the development of the peripheral nervous system.
neurogenesis; protein kinase; siRNA; zebrafish
Phosphorylation of types III and IV intermediate filaments (IFs) is known to regulate their organization and function. Phosphorylation of the amino-terminal head domain sites on types III and IV IF proteins plays a key role in the assembly/disassembly of IF subunits into 10 nm filaments, and influences the phosphorylation of sites on the carboxyl-terminal tail domain. These phosphorylation events are largely under the control of second messenger-dependent protein kinases and provide the cells a mechanism to reorganize the IFs in response to the changes in second messenger levels. In mitotic cells, Cdk1, Rho kinase, PAK1 and Aurora-B kinase are believed to regulate vimentin and glial fibrillary acidic protein phosphorylation in a spatio-temporal manner. In neurons, the carboxyl-terminal tail domains of the NF-M and NF-H subunits of heteropolymeric neurofilaments (NFs) are highly phosphorylated by proline-directed protein kinases. The phosphorylation of carboxyl-terminal tail domains of NFs has been suspected to play roles in forming cross-bridges between NFs and microtubules, slowing axonal transport and promoting their integration into cytoskeleton lattice and, in doing so, to control axonal caliber and stabilize the axon. The role of IF phosphorylation in disease pathobiology is discussed.
Intermediate filaments; neurofilaments; vimentin; phosphorylation; protein kinases and protein assembly
Under normal conditions, the proline-directed serine/threonine residues of neurofilament tail-domain repeats are exclusively phosphorylated in axons. In pathological conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), motor neurons contain abnormal perikaryal accumulations of phosphorylated neurofilament proteins. The precise mechanisms for this compartment-specific phosphorylation of neurofilaments are not completely understood. Although localization of kinases and phosphatases is certainly implicated, another possibility involves Pin1 modulation of phosphorylation of the proline-directed serine/threonine residues. Pin1, a prolyl isomerase, selectively binds to phosphorylated proline-directed serine/threonine residues in target proteins and isomerizes cis isomers to more stable trans configurations. In this study we show that Pin1 associates with phosphorylated neurofilament-H (p-NF-H) in neurons and is colocalized in ALS-affected spinal cord neuronal inclusions. To mimic the pathology of neurodegeneration, we studied glutamate-stressed neurons that displayed increased p-NF-H in perikaryal accumulations that colocalized with Pin1 and led to cell death. Both effects were reduced upon inhibition of Pin1 activity by the use of an inhibitor juglone and down-regulating Pin1 levels through the use of Pin1 small interfering RNA. Thus, isomerization of lys-ser-pro repeat residues that are abundant in NF-H tail domains by Pin1 can regulate NF-H phosphorylation, which suggests that Pin1 inhibition may be an attractive therapeutic target to reduce pathological accumulations of p-NF-H.
Cdk5, a cyclin-dependent kinase, is critical for neuronal development, neuronal migration, cortical lamination, and survival. Its survival role is based, in part, on “cross-talk” interactions with apoptotic and survival signaling pathways. Previously, we showed that Cdk5 phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)1 inhibits transient activation induced by nerve growth factor (NGF) in PC12 cells. To further explore the nature of this inhibition, we studied the kinetics of NGF activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (Erk)1/2 in cortical neurons with or without roscovitine, an inhibitor of Cdk5. NGF alone induced an Erk1/2-transient activation that peaked in 15 min and declined rapidly to baseline. Roscovitine, alone or with NGF, reached peak Erk1/2 activation in 30 min that was sustained for 48 h. Moreover, the sustained Erk1/2 activation induced apoptosis in cortical neurons. Significantly, pharmacological application of the MEK1 inhibitor PD98095 to roscovitine-treated cortical neurons prevented apoptosis. These results were also confirmed by knocking down Cdk5 activity in cortical neurons with Cdk5 small interference RNA. Apoptosis was correlated with a significant shift of phosphorylated tau and neurofilaments from axons to neuronal cell bodies. These results suggest that survival of cortical neurons is also dependent on tight Cdk5 modulation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway.
The intermediate filament protein nestin is characterized by its specific expression during the development of neuronal and myogenic tissues. We identify nestin as a novel in vivo target for cdk5 and p35 kinase, a critical signaling determinant in development. Two cdk5-specific phosphorylation sites on nestin, Thr-1495 and Thr-316, were established, the latter of which was used as a marker for cdk5-specific phosphorylation in vivo. Ectopic expression of cdk5 and p35 in central nervous system progenitor cells and in myogenic precursor cells induced elevated phosphorylation and reorganization of nestin. The kinetics of nestin expression corresponded to elevated expression and activation of cdk5 during differentiation of myoblast cell cultures and during regeneration of skeletal muscle. In the myoblasts, a disassembly-linked phosphorylation of Thr-316 indicated active phosphorylation of nestin by cdk5. Moreover, cdk5 occurred in physical association with nestin. Inhibition of cdk5 activity—either by transfection with dominant-negative cdk5 or by using a specific cdk5 inhibitor—blocked myoblast differentiation and phosphorylation of nestin at Thr-316, and this inhibition markedly disturbed the organization of nestin. Interestingly, the interaction between p35, the cdk5 activator, and nestin appeared to be regulated by cdk5. In differentiating myoblasts, p35 was not complexed with nestin phosphorylated at Thr-316, and inhibition of cdk5 activity during differentiation induced a marked association of p35 with nestin. These results demonstrate that there is a continuous turnover of cdk5 and p35 activity on a scaffold formed by nestin. This association is likely to affect the organization and operation of both cdk5 and nestin during development.