Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (cdk5) is a small serine/threonine kinase that displays close sequence homology to the mitotically active cyclin-dependent kinases. Cdk5 has been shown to play an essential role in the development of the nervous system, including neuronal migration and neurite outgrowth. Cdk5 activation requires the presence of a regulatory activator such as p35. cdk5 -/- mice have much more extensive defects in the development of the nervous system than p35 -/- mice, leading to the speculation that other regulatory activators of cdk5 exist. Indeed, p39 is a p35 related protein isolated by sequence homology to p35. We show here that p39 associates with cdk5 in brain lysates, and that this complex is active in phosphorylation of histone H1. By extensive characterization of p39 subcellular localization in different cell types, we demonstrate the presence of p39 in lamellipodial and fillopodial structures of cells and in growth cones of neurons. We show that p39 colocalizes with actin, and cofractionates with the detergent insoluble cytoskeleton from brain. Further, p39 coimmunoprecipitates with actin in brain lysates. Finally, disruption of the actin cytoskeleton alters p39 subcellular localization as well as kinase activity of the p39/cdk5 complex. Therefore, our results reveal the existence of the p39/cdk5 complex in vivo and suggest that it might play a role in regulating actin cytoskeletal dynamics in cells.
- © 2000 by Company of Biologists