Bioinformatic survey for new physiological substrates of Cyclin-dependent kinase 5


Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) is a proline-directed serine/threonine kinase predominantly active in the nervous system where it regulates several processes such as neuronal migration, cytoskeletal dynamics, axonal guidance, and neurotransmission. We constructed a position specific scoring matrix (PSSM) based on a dataset of sites shown to be phosphorylated both in vivo and in vitro by Cdk5. This dataset was curated manually through an exhaustive search of published experimental data. We then used this PSSM to perform a search in the mouse proteome through Scansite, a web-based tool for matching sequence patterns in large databases. Considering a stringent cut-off score of 0.5, we identified 354 new putative sites present in 291 proteins. In order to assess the robustness of our results, ten random subsets (of 80 sites each) of the original dataset were used to construct new PSSMs, which were then used as input for a new Scansite search, leading to the recovery of 81% of the 354 sites by at least 5 PSSMs. In order to reduce the number of false positives in our sequence-based approach, we evaluated which of these predicted sites were phosphorylated in vivo as determined by multiple phosphoproteomics studies carried out through mass spectrometry and available in the PhosphoSitePlus database. This step resulted in a very promising list of 132 putative phosphorylation sites for Cdk5, of which, 51 are specifically phosphorylated in brain tissue, and some are involved in functions regulated by Cdk5 such as axonal growth, synaptic plasticity and neurotransmission. Other phosphorylation sites in our list suggest that Cdk5 might regulate processes through mechanisms not previously recognized such as the control of mRNA splicing.