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Brain Res. 1994 Sep 5;656(1):14-26.

Evidence for the association of protein 4.1 immunoreactive forms with neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease brains.

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Laboratories for Molecular Neuroscience, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02178.


The formation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and paired-helical filaments (PHFs) in Alzheimer's disease (AD) reflects a major disorganization of the cytoskeleton. The role of the neuronal membrane skeleton in the development of these abnormalities has not previously been investigated. In this study, we used 9 antibodies raised against the erythrocyte membrane skeleton protein 4.1 (P4.1) for immunocytochemical and immunoblot analyses to investigate whether or not the brain homologues of this protein were constituents of NFTs or PHFs. Our results show that 7 of the 9 monospecific antibodies against the human and pig erythrocyte P4.1 stained NFTs in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of AD brains. The P4.1 antibodies used here did not cross-react with tau protein isolated from AD brain, and preabsorption of these antibodies with tau protein did not cause loss of NFT staining. In age-matched control brains, these P4.1 antibodies stained neuronal cell bodies or nuclei. Six of the antibodies also stained isolated NFTs but the SDS-insoluble NFTs were immunostained only by two of the P4.1 antibodies. By using inositol hexaphosphate affinity chromatography and immunoblot analysis, we identified a 68-kDa protein as the most likely brain analogue of P4.1. When SDS-extracted proteins from the isolated NFTs were immunoblotted, a 50-kDa band was immunostained. The 68-kDa and 50-kDa proteins were not stained by tau protein and neurofilament subunit NF-H antibodies, that strongly stained NFTs. We conclude that brain protein 4.1 isoform(s) are constituents of NFTs in AD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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