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Brain Res. 2011 Mar 24;1381:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.10.071. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

Cdk5 interacts with Hif-1α in neurons: a new hypoxic signalling mechanism?

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Institute of Veterinary Physiology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


The cyclin dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5)/p35 complex is essential for regulation of cell survival during development and in models of neuronal excitotoxicity. Dysregulation of Cdk5, by cleavage of its neuronal specific activators p35 and p39, has been implicated in various neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, however targets of the complex that regulate neuronal survival physiologically and/or during pathogenesis are largely unknown. Since hypoxia is a key feature in the pathogenesis of several neuronal disorders we investigated a role for Cdk5/p35 in the neuronal hypoxic response. Our data show that hypoxia modulates the p35/Cdk5 complex in primary cortical neurons at the transcriptional and protein level. Furthermore hypoxic induction of Cdk5 activity correlates with Hif-1α stabilisation, and direct interaction between these proteins can occur. Importantly, we demonstrate that Cdk5-mediated signaling is involved in Hif-1α stabilisation since inhibition of Cdk5 by roscovitine abrogates Hif-1α accumulation and induces cell death. Taken together our results show that the Cdk5/p35 complex may significantly contribute to modulation of Hif-1α stabilisation and impact neuronal survival during oxygen deprivation. Thus this study highlights a new hypoxia-mediated signaling pathway and implicates the cytoskeleton as a potential regulator of Hif-1α.

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