Control of neuronal ion channel function by glycogen synthase kinase-3: New prospective for an old kinase

Norelle Christine Wildburger, Fernanda Laezza

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) is an evolutionarily conserved multifaceted ubiquitous enzyme. In the central nervous system (CNS), GSK-3 acts through an intricate network of intracellular signaling pathways culminating in a highly divergent cascade of phosphorylations that control neuronal function during development and adulthood. Accumulated evidence indicates that altered levels of GSK-3 correlate with maladaptive plasticity of neuronal circuitries in psychiatric disorders, addictive behaviors, and neurodegenerative diseases, and pharmacological interventions known to limit GSK-3 can counteract some of these deficits. Thus, targeting the GSK-3 cascade for therapeutic interventions against this broad spectrum of brain diseases has raised a tremendous interest. Yet, the multitude of GSK-3 downstream effectors poses a substantial challenge in the development of selective and potent medications that could efficiently block or modulate the activity of this enzyme. Although the full range of GSK-3 molecular targets are far from resolved, exciting new evidence indicates that ion channels regulating excitability, neurotransmitter release, and synaptic transmission, which ultimately contribute to the mechanisms underling brain plasticity and higher level cognitive and emotional processing, are new promising targets of this enzyme. Here, we will revise this new emerging role of GSK-3 in controling the activity of voltage-gated Na +, K +, C a2+ channels and ligand-gated glutamate receptors with the goal of highlighting new relevant endpoints of the neuronal GSK-3 cascade that could provide a platform for a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the dysfunction of this kinase in the CNS and serve as a guidance for medication development against the broad range of GSK-3-linked human diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Issue numberJUNE 2012
StatePublished - Jun 20 2012


  • Excitability
  • Glutamate receptors
  • Neurotransmitter release
  • Synaptic transmission
  • Voltage-gated ion channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Control of neuronal ion channel function by glycogen synthase kinase-3: New prospective for an old kinase'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this