How are microtubules in neuronal cells affected in Alzheimers Disease?
Tau is a group of neuronal microtubule-associated proteins that are formed by alternative mRNA splicing and accumulate in neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s disease brain. Tau plays a key role in regulating microtubule dynamics, axonal transport and neurite outgrowth, and all these functions of tau are modulated by site-specific phosphorylation. There is significant evidence that a disruption of normal phosphorylation events results in tau dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, and is a contributing factor to the pathogenic processes. Indeed, the abnormal tau phosphorylation that occurs in neurodegenerative conditions not only results in a toxic loss of function (e.g. decreased microtubule binding) but probably also a toxic gain of function (e.g. increased tau-tau interactions). Although tau is phosphorylated in vitro by numerous protein kinases, how many of these actually phosphorylate tau in vivo is unclear. Identification of the protein kinases that phos