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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2001 Feb 28;356(1406):213-27.

From genetics to pathology: tau and alpha-synuclein assemblies in neurodegenerative diseases.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, UK. mg@mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk


The most common degenerative diseases of the human brain are characterized by the presence of abnormal filamentous inclusions in affected nerve cells and glial cells. These diseases can be grouped into two classes, based on the identity of the major proteinaceous components of the filamentous assemblies. The filaments are made of either the microtubule-associated protein tau or the protein alpha-synuclein. Importantly, the discovery of mutations in the tau gene in familial forms of frontotemporal dementia and of mutations in the alpha-synuclein gene in familial forms of Parkinson's disease has established that dysfunction of tau protein and alpha-synuclein can cause neurodegeneration.

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