Spatial learning impairment, enhanced CDK5/p35 activity, and downregulation of NMDA receptor expression in transgenic mice expressing tau-tubulin kinase 1

J Neurosci. 2008 Dec 31;28(53):14511-21. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3417-08.2008.


Tau-tubulin kinase-1 (TTBK1) is involved in phosphorylation of tau protein at specific Serine/Threonine residues found in paired helical filaments, suggesting its role in tauopathy pathogenesis. We found that TTBK1 levels were upregulated in brains of human Alzheimer' disease (AD) patients compared with age-matched non-AD controls. To understand the effects of TTBK1 activation in vivo, we developed transgenic mice harboring human full-length TTBK1 genomic DNA (TTBK1-Tg). Transgenic TTBK1 is highly expressed in subiculum and cortical pyramidal layers, and induces phosphorylated neurofilament aggregation. TTBK1-Tg mice show significant age-dependent memory impairment as determined by radial arm water maze test, which is associated with enhancement of tau and neurofilament phosphorylation, increased levels of p25 and p35, both activators of cyclin-dependent protein kinase 5 (CDK5), enhanced calpain I activity, and reduced levels of hippocampal NMDA receptor types 2B (NR2B) and D. Enhanced CDK5/p35 complex formation is strongly correlated with dissociation of F-actin from p35, suggesting the inhibitory mechanism of CDK5/p35 complex formation by F-actin. Expression of recombinant TTBK1 in primary mouse cortical neurons significantly downregulated NR2B in a CDK5- and calpain-dependent manner. These data suggest that TTBK1 in AD brain may be one of the underlying mechanisms inducing CDK5 and calpain activation, NR2B downregulation, and subsequent memory dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Age Factors
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Animals
  • Calpain / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Down-Regulation / genetics*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / genetics*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / genetics
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology
  • Transfection
  • Up-Regulation
  • t-Complex Genome Region


  • Actins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • NR2B NMDA receptor
  • NR2D NMDA receptor
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • neuronal Cdk5 activator (p25-p35)
  • tau-tubulin kinase
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Calpain
  • Capn1 protein, mouse