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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Jun;85(11):4051-5.

Cloning and sequencing of the cDNA encoding a core protein of the paired helical filament of Alzheimer disease: identification as the microtubule-associated protein tau.

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


Screening of cDNA libraries prepared from the frontal cortex of an Alzheimer disease patient and from fetal human brain has led to isolation of the cDNA for a core protein of the paired helical filament of Alzheimer disease. The partial amino acid sequence of this core protein was used to design synthetic oligonucleotide probes. The cDNA encodes a protein of 352 amino acids that contains a characteristic amino acid repeat in its carboxyl-terminal half. This protein is highly homologous to the sequence of the mouse microtubule-associated protein tau and thus constitutes the human equivalent of mouse tau. RNA blot analysis indicates the presence of two major transcripts, 6 and 2 kilobases lon g, with a wide distribution in normal human brain. Tau protein mRNAs were found in normal amounts in the frontal cortex from patients with Alzheimer disease. The proof that at least part of tau protein forms a component of the paired helical filament core opens the way to understanding the mode of formation of paired helical filaments and thus, ultimately, the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease.

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