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Neuron. 1994 Oct;13(4):989-1002.

Biopsy-derived adult human brain tau is phosphorylated at many of the same sites as Alzheimer's disease paired helical filament tau.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-4283.


Tau from Alzheimer's disease (AD) paired helical filaments (PHF-tau) is phosphorylated at sites not found in autopsy-derived adult tau from normal human brains, and this suggested that PHF-tau is abnormally phosphorylated. To explore this hypothesis, we examined human adult tau from brain biopsies and demonstrated that biopsy-derived tau is phosphorylated at most sites thought to be abnormally phosphorylated in PHF-tau. These sites also were phosphorylated in autopsy-derived human fetal tau and rapidly processed rat tau. The hypophosphorylation of autopsy-derived adult human tau is due to rapid dephosphorylation postmortem, and protein phosphatases 2A (PP2A) and 2B (PP2B) in human brain biopsies dephosphorylate tau in a site-specific manner. The down-regulation of phosphatases (i.e., PP2A and PP2B) in the AD brain could lead to the generation of maximally phosphorylated PHF-tau that does not bind microtubules and aggregates as PHFs in neurofibrillary tangles and dystrophic neurites.

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