While the requirement of CDKs in cell cycle control is well established, the participation of CDK family members in other important biological processes are now beginning to be uncovered. Paramount in these newly defined roles is the surprising involvement of CDKs in neuronal development and death. These discoveries are somewhat of a paradox considering the terminally differentiated state of neurons. This brief perspective will focus on the role of CDKs in neuronal death and neurodegeneration. In this regard, we will primarily explore two (of potentially many) ways by which CDKs may enable neuronal death. The first involves the effects of ectopic activation of cell cycle related CDKs in a terminal post mitotic environment. The second explores how cdk5, a neuron specific cdk required for normal neuronal function, can be usurped to signal death.

Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)
Department of Neuroscience

Smith, P, O'Hare, M.J. (Michael J), & Park, D.S. (David S). (2004). Emerging pathogenic role for cyclin dependent kinases in neurodegeneration. Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.), 3(3), 289–291.