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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Jul 1;88(13):5837-41.

Difference between the tau protein of Alzheimer paired helical filament core and normal tau revealed by epitope analysis of monoclonal antibodies 423 and 7.51.

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Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry, United Kingdom.


The microtubule-associated protein tau that is incorporated into paired helical filaments (PHFs) undergoes some form of aberrant posttranslational processing in Alzheimer disease. Difficulties in deciding which changes are critical for PHF formation stem in part from the lack of immunochemical markers specific for PHF tau. The only monoclonal antibody (mAb) that is known to react with PHF tau but not with the predominant normal adult tau species is mAb 423. Another mAb (7.51, described in this paper) recognizes a segment of tau that is included in the minimal recognition unit required by mAb 423. Unlike 423, which is PHF tau-specific, mAb 7.51 recognizes all PHF core-derived tau as well as native soluble tau and recombinant tau expressed in bacteria and so serves as a generic tau marker. Both epitopes are in the 12-kDa fragment released from the Pronase-resistant core of the PHF (which encompasses the tandem repeat region). The mAb 7.51 epitope requires segments located in the last two repeats, which are common to all tau isoforms. The mAb 423 epitope requires sequences located near both the N and the C terminus of the 12-kDa fragment common to three- and four-repeat tau isoforms. Fragments denatured by concentrated formic acid and SDS regain 423 reactivity when denaturing agents are removed. Since the primary amino acid sequences of PHF tau and normal tau are identical in the repeat region, we conclude that 423 reactivity also requires a modification(s) occurring within an approximately 90-residue segment that are not present in tau proteins so far described in the human brain.

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