Cdk5 is a unique member of the cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) family of small protein kinases. In association with its neuron-specific activator p35 or p39, Cdk5 displays many regulatory properties distinct from other Cdks. A growing body of evidence has suggested that Cdk5-p35 has important implications in a variety of neuronal activities occurring in the central nervous system. In brain, Cdk5-p35 appears to exist as large molecular complexes with other proteins, and protein-protein interactions appear to be a molecular principle for Cdk5-p35 to conduct its physiological functions. Over the past decade, a number of proteins have been identified to associate with Cdk5-p35. While the majority of these proteins mediate their interaction with Cdk5 through p35, implying that p35 may act not only as an activator of Cdk5 but also as an adaptor to associate Cdk5 with its regulators and physiological targets, a small group of other proteins are found to link directly with Cdk5. In addition, Cdk5 has been found to phosphorylate a diverse list of substrates, further implicating its regulatory roles in a wide range of cellular processes. In this review, we present an updated inventory of the interacting proteins of Cdk5-p35 kinase and its substrates as well as a discussion on the implicated effects of these interactions.

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