Drosophila cdk5 is needed for locomotive behavior and NMJ elaboration, but seems dispensable for synaptic transmission

Dev Neurobiol. 2009 May;69(6):365-77. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20711.


Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) functions in postmitotic neuronal cells and play roles in cell differentiation, cell migration, axonal guidance, and synaptic function. Here, we demonstrate that Drosophila cdk5 is dispensable for adult viability and fertility, a feature that allows us to study its physiological function in the whole animal model. For the adult, cdk5 is needed for proper locomotion and flight performance. Larvae lacking cdk5 in the presynaptic tissue display abnormal crawling motion, and their neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) are elongated and contain a higher number of boutons that are smaller. As a result of these two counteracting effects, the total synaptic area/NMJ is similar to wild type, leading to normal synaptic transmission, indicating that a compensatory mechanism is capable of correcting the problem caused by the lack of cdk5. futsch, the Drosophila MAP1B homolog, is also involved in NMJ morphogenesis, and analysis of the NMJ phenotype of the double mutant futsch(K68); cdk5(-) indicates that cdk5 is epistatic to futsch in this process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 / physiology*
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Flight, Animal / physiology*
  • Larva
  • Membrane Potentials / genetics
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Motor Activity / genetics
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Mutation
  • Neuromuscular Junction / genetics
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • futsch protein, Drosophila
  • microtubule-associated protein 1B
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5