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Keywords:

  • cyclin-dependent kinase;
  • cyclins;
  • mouse;
  • neurite outgrowth

Abstract

Cyclins and cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) are the main components that control the orderly progression through cell cycle. In the mature nervous system, terminally differentiated neurons are permanently withdrawn from cell cycle, as mitotic quiescence is essential for the functional stability of the complexly wired neuronal system. Recently, we characterized the expression and colocalization of cyclins and Cdks in terminally differentiated pyramidal neurons. The functional impact of the expression of cell cycle-related proteins in differentiated neurons, however, has not been elucidated yet. In the present study, we show by immunoelectron microscopy and immunobiochemical methods an association of cyclins and Cdks with the microtubule network. Cyclins D, E, A and B as well as Cdks 1, 2 and 4 were also found to be associated with the microtubule-associated protein tau. Cyclin/Cdk complexes, in addition, exhibit kinase activity towards tau. In vitro, downregulation of cyclins and Cdks by a siRNA approach and by pharmacological inhibition promotes neurite extension. Taken together, these results indicate that the expression of cell cycle-related proteins in terminal differentiated neurons is associated with physiological functions beyond cell cycle control that might be involved in microtubule-based mechanisms of neuroplasticity.