The role of the MAGUK protein CASK in neural development and synaptic function

Curr Med Chem. 2006;13(16):1915-27. doi: 10.2174/092986706777585040.


CASK, which belongs to the family of membrane-associated guanylate kinase (MAGUK) proteins, is recognized as a multidomain scaffolding protein highly expressed in the mammalian nervous system. MAGUK proteins generally target to neuronal synapses and regulate trafficking, targeting, and signaling of ion channels. However, CASK is a unique MAGUK protein in several respects. It not only plays a role in synaptic protein targeting but also contributes to neural development and regulation of gene expression. Several CASK-interacting proteins have been identified from yeast two-hybrid screening and biochemical isolation. These proteins, whose interactions with CASK are reviewed here, include the Parkinson's disease molecule parkin, the adhesion molecule neurexin, syndecans, calcium channel proteins, the cytoplasmic adaptor protein Mint1, Veli/mLIN-7/MALS, SAP97, caskin and CIP98, transcription factor Tbr-1, and nucleosome assembly protein CINAP. More important, CASK may form different complexes with different binding partners and perform different functions. Among these interactions, CASK, Tbr-1, and CINAP can form a transcriptional complex regulating gene expression. Reelin and NMDAR subunit 2b (NR2b) genes have been identified as Tbr-1 target genes. Reelin is critical for neural development. NR2b is an important subunit of NMDAR, which plays important roles in neural function and neurological diseases. Regulation of reelin and NR2b expression suggests the potential roles of the Tbr-1-CASK-CINAP complex in neural activity, development, and disease. The functions of these CASK protein complexes are also discussed in detail in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / chemistry
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Chromosome Pairing / genetics
  • Chromosome Pairing / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Guanylate Kinases / chemistry
  • Guanylate Kinases / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Reelin Protein
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Transcription Factors


  • Reelin Protein
  • Transcription Factors
  • CASK kinases
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Guanylate Kinases
  • RELN protein, human