Conditional deletion of neuronal cyclin-dependent kinase 5 in developing forebrain results in microglial activation and neurodegeneration

Am J Pathol. 2010 Jan;176(1):320-9. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.081158. Epub 2009 Nov 30.


Neuronal migration disorders are often identified in patients with epilepsy refractory to medical treatment. The prolonged or repeated seizures are known to cause neuronal death; however, the mechanism underlying seizure-induced neuronal death remains to be elucidated. An essential role of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) in brain development has been demonstrated in Cdk5(-/-) mice, which show neuronal migration defects and perinatal lethality. Here, we show the consequences of Cdk5 deficiency in the postnatal brain by generating Cdk5 conditional knockout mice, in which Cdk5is selectively eliminated from neurons in the developing forebrain. The conditional mutant mice were viable, but exhibited complex neurological deficits including seizures, tremors, and growth retardation. The forebrain not only showed disruption of layering, but also neurodegenerative changes accompanied by neuronal loss and microglial activation. The neurodegenerative changes progressed with age and were accompanied by up-regulation of the neuronal tissue-type plasminogen activator, a serine protease known to mediate microglial activation. Thus age-dependent neurodegeneration in the Cdk5 conditional knockout mouse brain invoked a massive inflammatory reaction. These findings indicate an important role of Cdk5 in inflammation, and also provide a mouse model to examine the possible involvement of inflammation in the pathogenesis of progressive cognitive decline in patients with neuronal migration disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 / deficiency*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 / metabolism
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microglia / enzymology
  • Microglia / pathology*
  • Nerve Degeneration / enzymology*
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Neurons / enzymology*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Organ Specificity
  • Prosencephalon / embryology*
  • Prosencephalon / enzymology*
  • Prosencephalon / pathology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / deficiency
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / genetics
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / metabolism


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator