It has been reported that cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (cdk5), a critical neuronal kinase, is hyperactivated in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and may be, in part, responsible for the hallmark pathology of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). It has been proposed by several laboratories that hyperactive cdk5 results from the overexpression of p25 (a truncated fragment of p35, the normal cdk5 regulator), which, when complexed to cdk5, induces hyperactivity, hyperphosphorylated tau/NFTs, amyloid-β plaques, and neuronal death. It has previously been shown that intraperitoneal (i.p.) injections of a modified truncated 24-aa peptide (TFP5), derived from the cdk5 activator p35, penetrated the blood-brain barrier and significantly rescued AD-like pathology in 5XFAD model mice. The principal pathology in the 5XFAD mutant, however, is extensive amyloid plaques; hence, as a proof of concept, we believe it is essential to demonstrate the peptide's efficacy in a mouse model expressing high levels of p25, such as the inducible CK-p25Tg model mouse that overexpresses p25 in CamKII positive neurons. Using a modified TFP5 treatment, here we show that peptide i.p. injections in these mice decrease cdk5 hyperactivity, tau, neurofilament-M/H hyperphosphorylation, and restore synaptic function and behavior (i.e., spatial working memory, motor deficit using Rota-rod). It is noteworthy that TFP5 does not inhibit endogenous cdk5/p35 activity, nor other cdks in vivo suggesting it might have no toxic side effects, and may serve as an excellent therapeutic candidate for neurodegenerative disorders expressing abnormally high brain levels of p25 and hyperactive cdk5.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; TFP5; cyclin-dependent kinase 5; hyperphosphorylation; synaptic function.