Axonal transport is essential for neuronal function, and defects in transport are associated with multiple neurodegenerative diseases. Aberrant cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (CDK5) activity, driven by the stress-induced activator p25, also is observed in these diseases. Here we show that elevated CDK5 activity increases the frequency of nonprocessive events for a range of organelles, including lysosomes, autophagosomes, mitochondria, and signaling endosomes. Transport disruption induced by aberrant CDK5 activation depends on the Lis1/Ndel1 complex, which directly regulates dynein activity. CDK5 phosphorylation of Ndel1 favors a high affinity Lis1/Ndel/dynein complex that blocks the ATP-dependent release of dynein from microtubules, inhibiting processive motility of dynein-driven cargo. Similar transport defects observed in neurons from a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are rescued by CDK5 inhibition. Together, these studies identify CDK5 as a Lis1/Ndel1-dependent regulator of transport in stressed neurons, and suggest that dysregulated CDK5 activity contributes to the transport deficits observed during neurodegeneration.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.