Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New biomarker for tau-related brain disorders? Study suggests another avenue for detecting Alzheimer's disease

Date:
April 1, 2011
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have determined that a well-known chemical process called acetylation has a previously unrecognized association with one of the biological processes associated with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. Acetylation was only detected in diseased brain tissue from patients with Alzheimer's disease or frontotemporal degeneration, suggesting it may have a role in tau transformation linked to disease onset and progression.

Tau protein modified by acetylation is detected in neurofibrillary tangles from brains of patients with Alzhiemer's disease.
Credit: David E. Hurtado, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have determined that a well-known chemical process called acetylation has a previously unrecognized association with one of the biological processes associated with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders.

The findings were published in the latest issue of Nature Communications.

Tau is one of the primary disease proteins associated with a suite of neurodegenerative diseases. Tau proteins are expressed primarily in the central nervous system where they help with the assembly and stability of microtubules, protein structures that are the backbone of the nerve-cell communication system.

"Acetylation was only detected in diseased brain tissue from patients with Alzheimer's disease or frontotemporal degeneration, suggesting it may have a role in tau transformation linked to disease onset and progression," says senior author Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, director of Penn's Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research. "This suggests that one type of acetylation is a potential target for drug discovery and biomarker development for Alzheimer's and related tauopathies."

The researchers demonstrated that tau acetylation led to a loss of one of its major functions -- to promote microtubule assembly, in addition to gaining a toxic function, pathological tau aggregation. Mass spectrometry analysis identified specific acetylation sites in the tau protein sequence that overlapped with known microtubule binding sequences, so acetylation may also play a role in faulty binding of tau to microtubules.

How normal tau becomes disengaged from microtubules to form disease-related clumps remains unknown. This study shows that acetylation is most likely another chemical modification implicated in neurodegenerative disorders to be explored as a potential way to detect and fight brain disease.

According to Lee, the next steps to follow up on this discovery are to pursue basic research into the mechanisms underlying this pathological acetylation of tau and its role in neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease and related tauopathies. In addition, she noted that "Our highest priority will be to find ways to translate these findings into better diagnostics and therapeutics for patients with Alzheimer's disease or frontotemporal degeneration."

The first author of the study is Todd Cohen with Penn co-authors Jing Guo, David Hurtado, Linda Kwong, Ian Mills, and John Trojanowski.

This study was funded by the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration and the National Institute on Aging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Todd J. Cohen, Jing L. Guo, David E. Hurtado, Linda K. Kwong, Ian P. Mills, John Q. Trojanowski, Virginia M. Y. Lee. The acetylation of tau inhibits its function and promotes pathological tau aggregation. Nature Communications, 2011; 2: 252 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1255

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "New biomarker for tau-related brain disorders? Study suggests another avenue for detecting Alzheimer's disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110401161506.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2011, April 1). New biomarker for tau-related brain disorders? Study suggests another avenue for detecting Alzheimer's disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110401161506.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "New biomarker for tau-related brain disorders? Study suggests another avenue for detecting Alzheimer's disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110401161506.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins