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Neuron. 2013 Apr 10;78(1):94-108. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.02.003.

The CAMKK2-AMPK kinase pathway mediates the synaptotoxic effects of Aβ oligomers through Tau phosphorylation.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Dorris Neuroscience Center, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Amyloid-β 1-42 (Aβ42) oligomers are synaptotoxic for excitatory cortical and hippocampal neurons and might play a role in early stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD) progression. Recent results suggested that Aβ42 oligomers trigger activation of AMP-activated kinase (AMPK), and its activation is increased in the brain of patients with AD. We show that increased intracellular calcium [Ca²⁺](i) induced by NMDA receptor activation or membrane depolarization activates AMPK in a CAMKK2-dependent manner. CAMKK2 or AMPK overactivation is sufficient to induce dendritic spine loss. Conversely, inhibiting their activity protects hippocampal neurons against synaptotoxic effects of Aβ42 oligomers in vitro and against the loss of dendritic spines observed in the human APP(SWE,IND)-expressing transgenic mouse model in vivo. AMPK phosphorylates Tau on KxGS motif S262, and expression of Tau S262A inhibits the synaptotoxic effects of Aβ42 oligomers. Our results identify a CAMKK2-AMPK-Tau pathway as a critical mediator of the synaptotoxic effects of Aβ42 oligomers.

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