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FEBS Lett. 2001 May 11;496(2-3):152-60.

Analysis of N-glycans of pathological tau: possible occurrence of aberrant processing of tau in Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Glycobiology, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Japan.


In a previous study [Wang et al. (1996) Nat. Med. 2, 871-875], Wang et al. found (i) that abnormally hyperphosphorylated tau (AD P-tau) isolated from Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain as paired helical filaments (PHF)-tau and as cytosolic AD P-tau but not tau from normal brain were stained by lectins, and (ii) that on in vitro deglycosylation the PHF untwisted into sheets of thin straight filaments, suggesting that tau only in AD brains is glycosylated. To elucidate the primary structure of N-glycans, we comparatively analyzed the N-glycan structures obtained from PHF-tau and AD P-tau. More than half of N-glycans found in PHF-tau and AD P-tau were different. High mannose-type sugar chains and truncated N-glycans were found in both taus in addition to a small amount of sialylated bi- and triantennary sugar chains. More truncated glycans were richer in PHF-tau than AD P-tau. This enrichment of more truncated glycans in PHF might be involved in promoting the assembly and or stabilizing the pathological fibrils in AD.

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