Cdk5/p35 Regulates Neurotransmitter Release through Phosphorylation and Downregulation of P/Q-Type Voltage-Dependent Calcium Channel Activity

Kazuhito Tomizawa, Jun Ohta, Masayuki Matsushita, Akiyoshi Moriwaki, Sheng Tian Li, Kohji Takei, Hideki Matsui

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161 Citations (Scopus)


Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) is a proline-directed serine/threonine kinase with close structural homology to the mitotic Cdks. The complex of Cdk5 and p35, the neuron-specific regulatory subunit of Cdk5, plays important roles in brain development, such as neuronal migration and neurite outgrowth. Moreover, Cdk5 is thought to be involved in the promotion of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease. Cdk5 is abundant in mature neurons; however, its physiological functions in the adult brain are unknown. Here we show that Cdk5/p35 regulates neurotransmitter release in the presynaptic terminal. Both Cdk5 and p35 were abundant in the synaptosomes. Roscovitine, a specific inhibitor of Cdk5 in neurons, induced neurotransmitter release from the synaptosomes in response to membrane depolarization and enhanced the EPSP slopes in rat hippocampal slices. The electrophysiological study using each specific inhibitor of the voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCCs) and calcium imaging revealed that roscovitine enhanced Ca2+ influx from the P/Q-type VDCC. Moreover, Cdk5/p25 phosphorylated the intracellular loop connecting domains II and III (LII-III) between amino acid residues 724 and 981 of isoforms cloned from rat brain of the α1A subunit of P/Q-type Ca2+ channels. The phosphorylation inhibited the interaction of LII-III with SNAP-25 and synaptotagmin I, which were plasma membrane soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein (SNAP) receptor (SNARE) proteins and were required for efficient neurotransmitter release. These results strongly suggest that Cdk5/p35 inhibits neurotransmitter release through the phosphorylation of P/Q-type VDCC and downregulation of the channel activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2590-2597
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2002



  • Calcium channel
  • Cdk5
  • Exocytosis
  • Presynapse
  • p35

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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