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GSK3 as a sensor determining cell fate in the brain


Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) is an unusual serine/threonine kinase that controls many neuronal functions, including neurite outgrowth, synapse formation, neurotransmission, and neurogenesis. It mediates these functions by phosphorylating a wide range of substrates involved in gene transcription, metabolism, apoptosis, cytoskeletal dynamics, signal transduction, lipid membrane dynamics, and trafficking, amongst others. This complicated list of diverse substrates generally follow a more simple pattern: substrates negatively regulated by GSK3-mediated phosphorylation favor a proliferative/survival state, while substrates positively regulated by GSK3 favor a more differentiated/functional state. Accordingly, GSK3 activity is higher in differentiated cells than undifferentiated cells and physiological (Wnt, growth factors) and pharmacological inhibitors of GSK3 promote the proliferative capacity of embryonic stem cells. In the brain, the level of GSK3 activity influences neural progenitor cell proliferation/differentiation in neuroplasticity and repair, as well as efficient neurotransmission in differentiated adult neurons. While defects in GSK3 activity are unlikely to be the primary cause of neurodegenerative diseases, therapeutic regulation of its activity to promote a proliferative/survival versus differentiated/mature functional environment in the brain could be a powerful strategy for treatment of neurodegenerative and other mental disorders.

Type Journal
ISBN 1662-5099 (Electronic) 1662-5099 (Linking)
Authors Cole, A. R.;
Responsible Garvan Author (missing name)
Publisher Name Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Published Date 2012-01-01
Published Volume 5
Published Pages 4
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version