Cdk5 is thought to be involved in several neurodegenerative diseases, but whether it provides protection or propagates pathology has been unclear. Trunova and Giniger address this issue using mutant flies in which Cdk5 is inactive. These flies show adult-onset neurodegeneration with specific effects on mushroom bodies, the regions of the fly brain that govern learning and memory. Mutant flies also exhibit other cellular phenotypes that resemble those seen in human neurodegenerative disease. This model can be used to separate processes associated with aging from those that specifically contribute to neurodegeneration caused by decreased Cdk5 function. Page 210
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