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J Biol Chem. 2003 Aug 22;278(34):31547-53. Epub 2003 Jun 11.

Alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors mediate beta-amyloid peptide-induced tau protein phosphorylation.

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Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, City University of New York Medical School, New York, New York 10031,USA.


The Alzheimer's disease pathogenic peptide, beta-amyloid42 (A beta 42), induces tau protein phosphorylation. Because hyperphosphorylated tau is a consistent component of neurofibrillary tangles, a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, we investigated the signaling molecules involved in A beta 42-induced tau phosphorylation. We show that A beta 42 elicited rapid and reversible tau protein phosphorylation on three proline-directed sites (Ser-202, Thr-181, and Thr-231) in systems enriched in alpha 7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (alpha 7nAChR) including serum-deprived human SK-N-MC neuroblastoma cells and hippocampal synaptosomes. Although alpha 7nAChR agonists induced similar phosphorylation, pretreatment with antisense-alpha 7nAChR oligonucleotides (in cells) or alpha 7nAChR antagonists (in cells and synaptosomes) attenuated A beta-induced tau phosphorylation. Western analyses showed that the mitogen-activated kinase cascade proteins, ERKs and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK-1), were concomitantly activated by A beta 42, and their respective kinase inhibitors suppressed A beta-induced tau phosphorylation. More importantly, recombinant-activated ERKs and JNK-1 could differentially phosphorylate tau protein in vitro. Thus, the alpha 7nAChR may mediate A beta-induced tau protein phosphorylation via ERKs and JNK-1.

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