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J Chem Neuroanat. 2002 May;23(4):291-7.

Expression of glycogen synthase kinase-3 isoforms in mouse tissues and their transcription in the brain.

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Department of Biochemistry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, China.


Glycogen synthase kinase-3alpha and -3beta (GSK-3alpha and -3beta) are multi-substrate, serine/threonine-specific kinases that can phosphorylate microtubule-associated protein tau and other neuronal proteins. In this study, the expression level and mRNA distribution of two GSK-3 isoforms, GSK-3alpha and -3beta in mice were investigated. Northern blot analyses indicated that GSK-3alpha mRNA is encoded by a 2.5-kb transcript in adult tissues, whereas a 4.1-kb transcript was found in neonatal tissues. The GSK-3beta mRNA is encoded by a 1.6-kb transcript in the testis and a 7.6-kb transcript in the brain, and in many other adult tissues, but not neonatal tissues. Western blot analyses demonstrated that GSK-3beta protein was mainly expressed in the brain and heart, whereas GSK-3alpha was highly expressed in the brain, heart, and testis. A non-radioactive in situ hybridization study using specific digoxigenin-labeled RNA probes showed that GSK-3alpha and -3beta mRNAs were found in many brain regions, and were especially abundant in the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, and the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. This implies the importance of GSK-3alpha and -3beta for brain function. The differential expression of GSK-3alpha and -3beta mRNAs as well as proteins in other tissues indicate that they play different roles in cellular functions and the developmental process.

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