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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Nov-Dec;1819(11-12):1173-85. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2012.08.001. Epub 2012 Aug 19.

CDKL5, a novel MYCN-repressed gene, blocks cell cycle and promotes differentiation of neuronal cells.

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Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Italy.


Mutations in the CDKL5 (cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5) gene are associated with a severe epileptic encephalopathy (early infantile epileptic encephalopathy type 2, EIEE2) characterized by early-onset intractable seizures, infantile spasms, severe developmental delay, intellectual disability, and Rett syndrome (RTT)-like features. Despite the clear involvement of CDKL5 mutations in intellectual disability, the function of this protein during brain development and the molecular mechanisms involved in its regulation are still unknown. Using human neuroblastoma cells as a model system we found that an increase in CDKL5 expression caused an arrest of the cell cycle in the G(0)/G(1) phases and induced cellular differentiation. Interestingly, CDKL5 expression was inhibited by MYCN, a transcription factor that promotes cell proliferation during brain development and plays a relevant role in neuroblastoma biology. Through a combination of different and complementary molecular and cellular approaches we could show that MYCN acts as a direct repressor of the CDKL5 promoter. Overall our findings unveil a functional axis between MYCN and CDKL5 governing both neuron proliferation rate and differentiation. The fact that CDKL5 is involved in the control of both neuron proliferation and differentiation may help understand the early appearance of neurological symptoms in patients with mutations in CDKL5.

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