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J Neurochem. 1993 Sep;61(3):921-7.

Phosphoprotein phosphatase activities in Alzheimer disease brain.

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New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island 10314.


Microtubule-associated protein tau is known to be hyperphosphorylated in Alzheimer disease brain and this abnormal hyperphosphorylation is associated with an inability of tau to promote the assembly of microtubule in the affected neurons. Our previous studies demonstrated that abnormally phosphorylated tau could be dephosphorylated after treatment with alkaline phosphatase, thereby suggesting that the abnormal phosphorylation of tau might in part be the result of a deficiency of the phosphoprotein phosphatase system in patients with Alzheimer disease. In the present study we used 32P-labeled phosphorylase kinase and poly(Glu, Tyr) 4:1 as substrates to measure phosphoprotein phosphatase activities in Alzheimer disease and control brains. The activities of phosphoseryl/phosphothreonyl-protein phosphatase types 1, 2A, 2B, and 2C and of phosphotyrosyl-protein phosphatase in frontal gray and white matters from 13 Alzheimer brains were determined and compared with those from 12 age-matched control brains. The activities of type 1 phosphatase and phosphotyrosyl phosphatase in gray matter and of type 2A phosphatase in both gray and white matters were significantly lower in Alzheimer disease brains than in controls. These findings suggest that the hyperphosphorylation of tau in Alzheimer disease brain could result from a protein dephosphorylation defect in vivo. The decrease in the phosphatase activities in Alzheimer disease might also be involved in the formation of beta-amyloid by augmenting the amyloidogenic pathway processing of beta-amyloid precursor protein.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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