Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) is a member of the serine-threonine kinase family of cyclin-dependent kinases. Cdk5 is critical to normal mammalian nervous system development and plays important regulatory roles in multiple cellular functions. Recent evidence indicates that Cdk5 is inappropriately activated in several neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson's disease (PD). PD is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra, decreased striatal dopamine levels, and consequent extrapyramidal motor dysfunction. During neurotoxicity, p35 is cleaved to form p25. Binding of p25 with Cdk5 leads deregulation of Cdk5 resulting in number of neurodegenerative pathologies. To date, strategies to specifically inhibit Cdk5 hyperactivity have not been successful without affecting normal Cdk5 activity. Here we show that inhibition of p25/Cdk5 hyperactivation through TFP5/TP5, truncated 24-aa peptide derived from the Cdk5 activator p35 rescues nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurodegeneration induced by 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP/MPP(+)) in a mouse model of PD. TP5 peptide treatment also blocked dopamine depletion in the striatum and improved gait dysfunction after MPTP administration. The neuroprotective effect of TFP5/TP5 peptide is also associated with marked reduction in neuroinflammation and apoptosis. Here we show inhibition of Cdk5/p25-hyperactivation by TFP5/TP5 peptide, which identifies Cdk5/p25 as a potential therapeutic target to reduce neurodegeneration in PD.
Keywords: MPTP; Parkinson's disease; TP5 TFP5/TP5 peptide; cyclin-dependent kinase 5; neurodegeneration; therapeutic target.