• phosphorylation;
  • signal transduction;
  • associating proteins


Cytosolic tyrosine kinases play a critical role both in neural development and in adult brain function and plasticity. Here we isolated a cDNA with high homology to human Ack1 and mouse Tnk2. This cDNA directs the expression of a 125-kD protein that can be autophosphorylated in tyrosines. Initially, this clone was named Pyk1 for proline-rich tyrosine kinase (Lev et al., 1995); however, since it corresponds to the mouse homolog of Ack1, here we called it Ack1/Pyk1. In this study we show that Ack1/Pyk1 mRNA and protein is highly expressed in the developing and adult brain. The highest levels of Ack1/Pyk1 expression were detected in the hippocampus, neocortex, and cerebellum. Electron microscopy studies showed that Ack1/Pyk1 protein is expressed in these regions both at dendritic spines and presynaptic axon terminals, indicating a role in synaptic function. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Ack1/Pyk1 mRNA levels are strongly upregulated by increased neural activity, produced by intraperitoneal kainate injections. During development, Ack1/Pyk1 was also expressed in the proliferative ventricular zones and in postmitotic maturing neurons. In neuronal cultures, Ack1/Pyk1 was detected in developing dendrites and axons, including dendritic tips and growth cones. Moreover, Ack1/Pyk1 colocalized with Cdc42 GTPase in neuronal cultures and coimmunoprecipitated with Cdc42 in HEK 293T cells. Altogether, our findings indicate that Ack1/Pyk1 tyrosine kinase may be involved both in adult synaptic function and plasticity and in brain development. J. Comp. Neurol. 490:119–132, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.