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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Jun 23;345(1):324-31. Epub 2006 May 6.

Glutamate treatment and p25 transfection increase Cdk5 mediated tau phosphorylation in SH-SY5Y cells.

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Karolinska Institutet, NVS, Division of Experimental Geriatrics, Novum, S-141 86 Huddinge, Sweden; AstraZeneca R&D, Forskargatan 20, Building 212, S-151 85 Södertälje, Sweden.


Neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) of hyperphosphorylated tau protein are a major pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). One of the tau phosphorylating kinases with pathological relevance in AD has been suggested to be the cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5). The proposed mechanism leading to pathological Cdk5 activity is through induced cleavage of p35 to a proteolytic product, p25. To further study activation of Cdk5 and its role in tau phosphorylation in vitro, we used differentiated SH-SY5Y cells treated with neurotoxic stimuli or transfected with p25. We show that glutamate increased tau phosphorylation, concomitant with an increased Cdk5 activity achieved by upregulation of Cdk5 and p35 protein levels. Treatment with the calcium ionophore A23187 generated the calpain cleaved p25 fragment but only in toxic conditions that caused dephosphorylation and loss of tau. When p25 was transfected to the cells, increased tau phosphorylation was achieved. However, application of the Cdk5 inhibitor Roscovitine did not result in inhibition of tau phosphorylation possibly due to activation of extracellular regulated kinase 1/2 (Erk1/2), which also is capable of phosphorylating tau. Cdk5 and Erk1/2 kinases share some common substrates but impact of their cross talk on tau phosphorylation has not previously been demonstrated. We also show that p25 is degraded via the proteasome in Roscovitine treated cells.

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