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Physiol Rev. 2004 Apr;84(2):361-84.

Role of tau protein in both physiological and pathological conditions.

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Centro de Biología Molecular "Severo Ochoa", Facultad de Ciencias, Campus de Cantoblanco, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain.


The morphology of a neuron is determined by its cytoskeletal scaffolding. Thus proteins that associate with the principal cytoskeletal components such as the microtubules have a strong influence on both the morphology and physiology of neurons. Tau is a microtubule-associated protein that stabilizes neuronal microtubules under normal physiological conditions. However, in certain pathological situations, tau protein may undergo modifications, mainly through phosphorylation, that can result in the generation of aberrant aggregates that are toxic to neurons. This process occurs in a number of neurological disorders collectively known as tauopathies, the most commonly recognized of which is Alzheimer's disease. The purpose of this review is to define the role of tau protein under normal physiological conditions and to highlight the role of the protein in different tauopathies.

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