Biological functions of CDK5 and potential CDK5 targeted clinical treatments

Alison Shupp _, Mathew C. Casimiro and Richard G. Pestell

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:17373-17382. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.14538

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Alison Shupp1, Mathew C. Casimiro2 and Richard G. Pestell2

1 Departments of Cancer Biology, Medical Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

2 Pennsylvania Cancer and Regenerative Medicine Research Center, Baruch S Blumberg Institute, Doylestown, PA, USA

Correspondence to:

Richard G. Pestell, email:

Keywords: CDK5, cancer

Received: October 22, 2016 Accepted: December 17, 2016 Published: January 06, 2017


Cyclin dependent kinases are proline-directed serine/threonine protein kinases that are traditionally activated upon association with a regulatory subunit. For most CDKs, activation by a cyclin occurs through association and phosphorylation of the CDK’s T-loop. CDK5 is unusual because it is not typically activated upon binding with a cyclin and does not require T-loop phosphorylation for activation, even though it has high amino acid sequence homology with other CDKs. While it was previously thought that CDK5 only interacted with p35 or p39 and their cleaved counterparts, Recent evidence suggests that CDK5 can interact with certain cylins, amongst other proteins, which modulate CDK5 activity levels. This review discusses recent findings of molecular interactions that regulate CDK5 activity and CDK5 associated pathways that are implicated in various diseases. Also covered herein is the growing body of evidence for CDK5 in contributing to the onset and progression of tumorigenesis.

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