Deamidation and isoaspartate formation in smeared tau in paired helical filaments. Unusual properties of the microtubule-binding domain of tau.
An extensive loss of a selected population of neurons in Alzheimer's disease is closely related to the formation of paired helical filaments (PHFs). The most striking characteristic of PHFs upon Western blotting is their smearing. According to a previously described protocol (Morishima-Kawashima, M., Hasegawa, M., Takio, K., Suzuki, M., Titani, K., and Ihara, Y. (1993) Neuron 10, 1151-1160), smeared tau was purified, and its peptide map was compared with that of soluble (normal) tau. A CNBr fragment from soluble tau (CN5; residues 251-419 according to the 441-residue isoform) containing the microtubule-binding domain migrated at 15 and 18 kDa on SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, whereas that from smeared tau exhibited two larger, unusually broad bands at approximately 30 and approximately 45 kDa, presumably representing dimers and trimers of CN5. In the peptide map of smeared tau-derived CN5, distinct peaks eluting at unusual locations were noted. Amino acid sequence and mass spectrometric analyses revealed that these distinct peptides bear isoaspartate at Asn-381 and Asp-387. Because no unusual peptides other than aspartyl or isoaspartyl peptide were found in the digests of smeared tau-derived CN5, it is likely that site-specific deamidation and isoaspartate formation are involved in its dimerization and trimerization and thus in PHF formation in vivo. (+info)
The development of cell processes induced by tau protein requires phosphorylation of serine 262 and 356 in the repeat domain and is inhibited by phosphorylation in the proline-rich domains.
The differentiation of neurons and the outgrowth of neurites depends on microtubule-associated proteins such as tau protein. To study this process, we have used the model of Sf9 cells, which allows efficient transfection with microtubule-associated proteins (via baculovirus vectors) and observation of the resulting neurite-like extensions. We compared the phosphorylation of tau23 (the embryonic form of human tau) with mutants in which critical phosphorylation sites were deleted by mutating Ser or Thr residues into Ala. One can broadly distinguish two types of sites, the KXGS motifs in the repeats (which regulate the affinity of tau to microtubules) and the SP or TP motifs in the domains flanking the repeats (which contain epitopes for antibodies diagnostic of Alzheimer's disease). Here we report that both types of sites can be phosphorylated by endogenous kinases of Sf9 cells, and that the phosphorylation pattern of the transfected tau is very similar to that of neurons, showing that Sf9 cells can be regarded as an approximate model for the neuronal balance between kinases and phosphatases. We show that mutations in the repeat domain and in the flanking domains have opposite effects. Mutations of KXGS motifs in the repeats (Ser262, 324, and 356) strongly inhibit the outgrowth of cell extensions induced by tau, even though this type of phosphorylation accounts for only a minor fraction of the total phosphate. This argues that the temporary detachment of tau from microtubules (by phosphorylation at KXGS motifs) is a necessary condition for establishing cell polarity at a critical point in space or time. Conversely, the phosphorylation at SP or TP motifs represents the majority of phosphate (>80%); mutations in these motifs cause an increase in cell extensions, indicating that this type of phosphorylation retards the differentiation of the cells. (+info)
Increased poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of nuclear proteins in Alzheimer's disease.
Experimental studies indicate that overactivation of the DNA repair protein poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) in response to oxidative damage to DNA can cause cell death due to depletion of NAD+. Oxidative damage to DNA and other macromolecules has been reported to be increased in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. In the present study we sought evidence of PARP activation in Alzheimer's disease by immunostaining sections of frontal and temporal lobe from autopsy material of 20 patients and 10 controls, both for PARP itself and for its end-product, poly(ADP-ribose). All of the brains had previously been subjected to detailed neuropathological examination to confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or, in the controls, to exclude Alzheimer's disease-type pathology. Double immunolabelling for poly(ADP-ribose) and microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2), glial fibrillary-acidic protein (GFAP), CD68, A beta-protein or tau was used to assess the identity of the cells with poly(ADP-ribose) accumulation and their relationship to plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Both PARP- and poly(ADP-ribose)-immunolabelled cells were detected in a much higher proportion of Alzheimer's disease (20 out of 20) brains than of control brains (5 out of 10) (P = 0.0018). Double-immunolabelling for poly(ADP-ribose) and markers of neuronal, astrocytic and microglial differentiation (MAP2, GFAP and CD68, respectively) showed many of the cells containing poly(ADP-ribose) to be neurons. Most of these were small pyramidal neurons in cortical laminae 3 and 5. A few of the cells containing poly(ADP-ribose) were astrocytes. No poly(ADP-ribose) accumulation was detected in microglia. Double-immunolabelling for poly(ADP-ribose) and tau or A beta-protein indicated that the cells with accumulation of poly(ADP-ribose) did not contain tangles and relatively few occurred within plaques. Our findings indicate that there is enhanced PARP activity in Alzheimer's disease and suggest that pharmacological interventions aimed at inhibiting PARP may have a role in slowing the progression of the disease. (+info)
Association of an extended haplotype in the tau gene with progressive supranuclear palsy.
We describe two extended haplotypes that cover the human tau gene. In a total of approximately 200 unrelated caucasian individuals there is complete disequilibrium between polymorphisms which span the gene (which covers approximately 100 kb of DNA). This suggests that the establishment of the two haplotypes was an ancient event and either that recombination is suppressed in this region, or that recombinant genes are selected against. Furthermore, we show that the more common haplotype (H1) is significantly over-represented in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), extending earlier reports of an association between an intronic dinucleotide polymorphism and PSP. (+info)
Heparin-induced conformational change in microtubule-associated protein Tau as detected by chemical cross-linking and phosphopeptide mapping.
In Alzheimer's disease, microtubule-associated protein tau becomes abnormally phosphorylated and aggregates into paired helical filaments. Sulfated glycosaminoglycans such as heparin and heparan sulfate were shown to accumulate in pretangle neurons, stimulate in vitro tau phosphorylation, and cause tau aggregation into paired helical filament-like filaments. The sulfated glycosaminoglycan-tau interaction was suggested to be the central event in the development of neuropathology in Alzheimer's disease brain (Goedert, M., Jakes, R., Spillantini, M. G., Hasegawa, M., Smith, M. J., and Crowther, R. A. (1996) Nature 383, 550-553). The biochemical mechanism by which sulfated glycosaminoglycans stimulate tau phosphorylation and cause tau aggregation remains unclear. In this study, disuccinimidyl suberate (DSS), a bifunctional chemical cross-linker, cross-linked tau dimers, tetramers, high molecular size aggregates, and two tau species of sizes 72 and 83 kDa in the presence of heparin. In the absence of heparin only dimeric tau was cross-linked by DSS. Fast protein liquid chromatography gel filtration revealed that 72- and 83-kDa species were formed by intramolecular cross-linking of tau by DSS. These observations indicate that heparin, in addition to causing aggregation, also induces a conformational change in tau in which reactive groups are unmasked or move closer leading to the DSS cross-linking of 72- and 83-kDa species. Heparin-induced structural changes in tau molecule depended on time of heparin exposure. Dimerization and tetramerization peaked at 48 h, whereas conformational change was completed within 30 min of heparin exposure. Heparin exposure beyond 48 h caused an abrupt aggregation of tau into high molecular size species. Heparin stimulated tau phosphorylation by neuronal cdc2-like kinase (NCLK) and cAMP-dependent protein kinase. Phosphopeptide mapping and phosphopeptide sequencing revealed that tau is phosphorylated by NCLK on Thr212 and Thr231 and by cAMP-dependent protein kinase on Ser262 only in the presence of heparin. Heparin stimulation of tau phosphorylation by NCLK showed dependence on time of heparin exposure and correlated with the heparin-induced conformational change of tau. Our data suggest that heparin-induced conformational change exposes new sites for phosphorylation within tau molecule. (+info)
The expression of casein kinase 2alpha' and phosphatase 2A activity.
Protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) activity may be differentially regulated by the expression of proteins containing a related amino acid sequence motif such as the casein kinase 2alpha (CK2alpha) subunit or SV40 small t antigen (SVt). Expression of CK2alpha increases PP2A activity whereas SVt decreases its activity. In this work we have tested for the effect of the expression of a third protein containing a similar motif that could be involved in PP2A regulation, the catalytic casein kinase 2alpha' subunit. Our results show that despite the structural similarity of this protein with the other CK2 catalytic (alpha) subunit, the function of the two subunits with respect to the modulation of PP2A activity is quite different: CK2alpha increases whereas CK2alpha' slightly decreases PP2A activity. (+info)
Polymerization of tau peptides into fibrillar structures. The effect of FTDP-17 mutations.
The peptides corresponding to the four repeats found in the microtubule binding region of tau protein were synthesized and their ability for self-aggregation in presence of heparin or chondroitin sulfate was measured. Mainly, only the peptide containing the third tau repeat is able to form polymers in a high proportion. Additionally, the peptide containing the second repeat aggregates with a very low efficiency. However, when this peptide contains the mutation (P301L), described in a fronto temporal dementia, it is able to form polymers at a higher extent. Finally, it is suggested to have a role for the first and fourth tau repeats. It could be to decrease the ability of the third tau repeat for self-aggregation in the presence of heparin. (+info)
Mutations in tau reduce its microtubule binding properties in intact cells and affect its phosphorylation.
In vitro evidence has suggested a change in the ability of tau bearing mutations associated with fronto-temporal dementia to promote microtubule assembly. We have used a cellular assay to quantitate the effect of both isoform differences and mutations on the physiological function of tau. Whilst all variants of tau bind to microtubules, microtubule extension is reduced in cells transfected with 3-relative to 4-repeat tau. Mutations reduce microtubule extension with the P301L mutation having a greater effect than the V337M mutation. The R406W mutation had a small effect on microtubule extension but, surprisingly, tau with this mutation was less phosphorylated in intact cells than the other variants. (+info)