The development and function of neuronal synapses are orchestrated by
various extrinsic factors through intracellular signaling cascades that often involve
protein kinases. One important kinase at the synapse is the proline-directed serine/
threonine kinase Cdk5. Although early pharmacological and genetic studies have
pointed out the critical role of Cdk5 in regulating synapse function, the precise
mechanisms have only been unraveled in recent years through the identification and characterization of multiple
substrates. Emerging studies also indicate that Cdk5 dysregulation is linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. This review
focuses on recent progress in our understanding of the multiple roles of Cdk5 in mitochondrial function, synapse
development and plasticity through phosphorylation of specific substrates at different cellular compartments.
Keywords: Cyclin-dependent kinase 5, dendritic spine, kinase, mitochondria, phosphorylation, synapse.
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