Pharmacological targets to inhibit alzheimer neurofibrillary degeneration
Neurofibrillary degeneration appears to be required for the clinical expression of Alzheimer disease (AD) and related tauopathies. Given the polyetiology of these diseases and the pivotal involvement of neurofibrillary degeneration in their pathogenesis, inhibition of this lesion offers a promising therapeutic target. Studies from our laboratories have shown that there is a protein phosphorylation/dephosphorylation imbalance and that the microtubule associated protein tau is abnormally hyperphosphorylated in the brain of patients with AD and in this form it is the major protein subunit of paired helical filaments/neurofibrillary tangles (PHF/NFT). The abnormal tau which is polymerized into PHF/NFT neither promotes or inhibits in vitro microtubule assembly. In contrast the cytosolic abnormally hyperphosphorylated tau from AD brain, the AD P-tau neither associates with tubulin nor promotes in vitro microtubule assembly but instead it sequesters normal tau, MAPI and MAP2 and inhibits microtubule assembly. The AD P-tau readily self-assembles in vitro into tangles of PHF/straight filaments under physiological conditions of protein concentration, pH, ionic strength and reducing conditions and this self assembly requires the abnormal hyperphosphorylation of this protein. The activity of phosphoseryl/phosphothreonyl protein phosphatase (PP)-2A which regulates the phosphorylation of tau, is compromised in AD brain. Thus, modulation of the activities of protein phosphatase-2A and tau kinases and inhibition of the sequestration of normal MAPs by AD P-tau offer promising therapeutic opportunities to inhibit neurofibrillary degeneration and the diseases characterized by this lesion.
KeywordsAlzheimer Disease Microtubule Assembly Paired Helical Filament Alzheimer Disease Brain Neurofibrillary Degeneration
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