Activation of cyclin dependent kinases (Cdks) contributes to neuronal death following ischemia. We used oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) in septal neuronal cultures to test for possible roles of cell cycle proteins in neuronal survival. Increased cdc2-immunoreactive neurons were observed at 24 h after the end of 5 h OGD. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) or GFP along with a wild type or dominant negative form of the retinoblastoma protein (Rb), or cyclin-dependent kinase5 (Cdk5), were overexpressed using plasmid constructs. Following OGD, when compared to controls, neurons expressing both GFP and dominant negative Rb, RbΔK11, showed significantly less damage using microscopy imaging. Overexpression of Rb-wt did not affect survival. Surprisingly, overexpression of Cdk5-wild type significantly protected neurons from process disintegration but Cdk5T33, a dominant negative Cdk5, gave little or no protection. Thus phosphorylation of the cell cycle regulator, Rb, contributes to death in OGD in septal neurons but Cdk5 can have a protective role.
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