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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Jan 3;1739(2-3):280-97.

Tau phosphorylation: physiological and pathological consequences.

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Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1061 Sparks Center, 1720 7th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-0017, USA.


The microtubule-associated protein tau, abundant in neurons, has gained notoriety due to the fact that it is deposited in cells as fibrillar lesions in numerous neurodegenerative diseases, and most notably Alzheimer's disease. Regulation of microtubule dynamics is the most well-recognized function of tau, but it is becoming increasingly evident that tau plays additional roles in the cell. The functions of tau are regulated by site-specific phosphorylation events, which if dysregulated, as they are in the disease state, result in tau dysfunction and mislocalization, which is potentially followed by tau polymerization, neuronal dysfunction and death. Given the increasing evidence that a disruption in the normal phosphorylation state of tau plays a key role in the pathogenic events that occur in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, it is of crucial importance that the protein kinases and phosphatases that regulate tau phosphorylation in vivo as well as the signaling cascades that regulate them be identified. This review focuses on recent literature pertaining to the regulation of tau phosphorylation and function in cell culture and animal model systems, and the role that a dysregulation of tau phosphorylation may play in the neuronal dysfunction and death that occur in neurodegenerative diseases that have tau pathology.

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