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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Jun;85(12):4501-5.

Ubiquitin is associated with abnormal cytoplasmic filaments characteristic of neurodegenerative diseases.

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  • 1Division of Neuropathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106.


Several degenerative diseases of the nervous system are characterized by the presence of neuronal inclusions. Most of these inclusions are made of abnormal filaments and share epitopes with cytoskeletal proteins. One of these inclusions, the neurofibrillary tangle of Alzheimer disease, has recently been shown to contain ubiquitin, a regulatory protein thought to play a role in the degradation of abnormal proteins. We carried out light and electron microscopic immunocytochemistry with several polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies to investigate the presence of ubiquitin in neuronal inclusions of neurodegenerative diseases. Ubiquitin was present not only in paired helical filaments that form the neurofibrillary tangle of Alzheimer disease, but also in the filamentous components of the inclusion characteristic of Parkinson disease, Pick disease, and progressive supranuclear palsy. In contrast, ubiquitin was not detected in other neuronal inclusions often found in aging and in Alzheimer disease, such as Hirano bodies and granulovacuolar degeneration. Reactivity with monoclonal antibodies suggests differences in the ubiquitin-acceptor proteins present in the inclusions studied. It is concluded that ubiquitin is selectively present in neuronal inclusions of degenerative diseases.

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