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J Signal Transduct. 2012;2012:649079. doi: 10.1155/2012/649079. Epub 2012 Jun 25.

The Role of p38 MAPK and Its Substrates in Neuronal Plasticity and Neurodegenerative Disease.

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  • 1School of Life Sciences, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.


A significant amount of evidence suggests that the p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling cascade plays a crucial role in synaptic plasticity and in neurodegenerative diseases. In this review we will discuss the cellular localisation and activation of p38 MAPK and the recent advances on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of its substrates: MAPKAPK 2 (MK2) and tau protein. In particular we will focus our attention on the understanding of the p38 MAPK-MK2 and p38 MAPK-tau activation axis in controlling neuroinflammation, actin remodelling and tau hyperphosphorylation, processes that are thought to be involved in normal ageing as well as in neurodegenerative diseases. We will also give some insight into how elucidating the precise role of p38 MAPK-MK2 and p38 MAPK-tau signalling cascades may help to identify novel therapeutic targets to slow down the symptoms observed in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

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