NEK6 is an injury-responsive kinase cooperating with STAT3 in regulation of reactive astrogliosis

Ying Yu, Tianjin Shen, Xiaoling Zhong, Lei Lei Wang, Wenjiao Tai, Yuhua Zou, Jun Qin, Zhaohui Zhang, Chun Li Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In response to brain injury, resident astrocytes become reactive and play dynamic roles in neural repair and regeneration. The signaling pathways underlying such reactive astrogliosis remain largely unclear. We here show that NEK6, a NIMA-related serine/threonine protein kinase, is rapidly induced following pathological stimulations and plays critical roles in reactive astrogliosis. Enhanced NEK6 expression promotes reactive astrogliosis and exacerbates brain lesions; and conversely, NEK6 downregulation dampens injury-induced astrocyte reactivity and reduces lesion size. Mechanistically, NEK6 associates with and phosphorylates STAT3. Kinase activity of NEK6 is required for induction of GFAP and PCNA, markers of reactive astrogliosis. Interestingly, NEK6 is also localized in the nucleus and binds to STAT3-responsive genomic elements in astrocytes. These results indicate that NEK6 constitutes a molecular target for the regulation of reactive astrogliosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-286
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • NEK6
  • STAT3
  • glial scar
  • neuroinflammation
  • reactive astrogliosis
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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