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J Neurochem. 2002 May;81(3):646-54.

Expression of Cdk5 and its activators in NT2 cells during neuronal differentiation.

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Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Neuroscience Center and Biotechnology Research Institute, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong, China.


We have recently developed a rapid protocol involving NT2 cell aggregation and treatment with retinoic acid (RA) to produce terminally differentiated CNS neurons. As a first step to explore the functional roles of cell-cycle regulatory proteins in the process of neuronal differentiation, the expression profiles of cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) and their regulators were examined in NT2 cells following treatment with RA. One of the Cdks, Cdk5, has been demonstrated to affect the process of neuronal differentiation and suggested to play an important role in development of the nervous system. We found that the expression of Cdk5 was gradually increased, while its activators (p35 and p39) as well as Cdk5 kinase activity were induced in NT2 cells during the process of neuronal differentiation. Moreover, both p35 and p39 were localized along the axons and varicosity-like structures of differentiated NT2 neurons. Taken together, our results demonstrated that NT2 cells provide a good in vitro model system to examine signaling pathways involved in the regulation of Cdk5 activators and to elucidate the functional roles of Cdk5 in neuronal differentiation.

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