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Dementia. 1994 Sep-Oct;5(5):282-8.

Posttranslational modifications of tau in paired helical filaments.

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  • 1Department of Neuropathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Paired helical filaments (PHF) are fibrillar structures that accumulate in degenerating neurons of AD brain. We have purified their components, PHF-tau and PHF-smear, and analyzed them protein chemically. PHF-tau is abnormally phosphorylated. Although the characteristic of this phosphorylation is similar to that of fetal tau, its extent is higher in PHF-tau. The additional phosphorylation in PHF-tau may cause its loss of microtubule assembly capacity. Our results on the phosphorylation sites suggested that fetal tau and presumably PHF-tau are in vivo substrates of proline-directed protein kinases. PHF-smear consisted largely of the carboxyl-terminal portion of tau and ubiquitin. The ubiquitin-targeted protein was identified as tau in PHF and the conjugation sites were localized to the microtubule-binding region. It is most likely that abnormally phosphorylated full-length tau (PHF-tau) accumulates as PHF, which is then gradually processed from its amino-terminus and followed by ubiquitination.

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