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FASEB J. 2003 Feb;17(2):295-7. Epub 2002 Dec 18.

Apolipoprotein E and Reelin ligands modulate tau phosphorylation through an apolipoprotein E receptor/disabled-1/glycogen synthase kinase-3beta cascade.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Ehime University, Onsen-gun, Ehime 791-0295, Japan.


Neurofibrillary tangles comprised of highly phosphorylated tau proteins are a key component of Alzheimer's disease pathology. Mice lacking Reelin (Reln), double-knockouts lacking the VLDL receptor (VLDLR) and ApoE receptor2 (ApoER2), and mice lacking disabled-1 (Dab1) display increased levels of phosphorylated tau. Because Reln binds to recombinant ApoE receptors, assembly of a Reln/ApoE-receptor/Dab1 (RAD) complex may initiate a signal transduction cascade that controls tau phosphorylation. Conversely, disruption of this RAD complex may increase tau phosphorylation and lead to neurodegeneration. To substantiate this concept, we mated Reln-deficient mice to ApoE-deficient mice and found that in the absence of Reln, tau phosphorylation increased as the amount of ApoE decreased. Paralleling the change in tau phosphorylation levels, we found that GSK-3beta activity increased in Reln-deficient mice and further increased in mice lacking both Reln and ApoE. CDK-5 activity was similar in mice lacking Reln, ApoE, or both. GSK-3beta and CDK-5 activity increased in Dab1-deficient mice, independent of ApoE levels. Further supporting the idea that increased tau phosphorylation results primarily from increased kinase activity, the activity of two phosphatases was similar in all conditions tested. These data support a novel, ligand-mediated signal transduction cascade--initiated by the assembly of a RAD complex that suppresses kinase activity and controls tau phosphorylation.

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