Activity and expression pattern of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 in the embryonic mouse nervous system

Li Huei Tsai, Takao Takahashi, Verne S. Caviness, Ed Harlow

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432 Citations (Scopus)


Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (cdk5) was originally isolated on the basis of its close primary sequence homology to the human cdc2 serine/threonine kinase, the prototype of the cyclin-dependent kinases. While kinase activities of both cdc2 and cdk2 are detected in proliferating cells and are essential for cells to progress through the key transition points of the cell cycle, cdk5 kinase activity has been observed only in lysates of adult brain. In this study, we compared the activity and expression of cdk5 with that of cdc2 and cdk2 in the embryonic mouse forebrain. The expression and activity of cdkS increased progressively as increasing numbers of cells exited the proliferative cycle. In contrast, the expression and activity of cdc2 and cdk2 were maximum at gestational day 11 (E11) when the majority of cells were proliferating and fell to barely detectable levels at E17 at the end of the cytogenetic period. Immunohistochemical studies showed that cdkS is expressed in postmitotic neurons but not in glial cells or mitotically active cells. Expression of cdkS was concentrated in fasciculated axons of postmitotic neurons. In contrast to other cell division cycle kinases to which it is closely related, cdkS appears not to be expressed in dividing cells in the developing brain. These observations suggest that cdkS may have a role in neuronal differentiation but not in the cell division cycle in the embryonic nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1040
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1993 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell cycle
  • Cyclin-dependent kinases
  • Neuronal differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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