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Int Rev Cytol. 1997;171:167-224.

Normal and pathological Tau proteins as factors for microtubule assembly.

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Unité INSERM 422, Lille, France.


Tau proteins are microtubule-associated proteins. They regulate the dynamics of the microtubule network, especially involved in the axonal transport and neuronal plasticity. Tau proteins belong to a family of developmentally regulated isoforms generated by alternative splicing and phosphorylation. This generates several Tau variants that interact with tubulin and other proteins. Therefore, Tau proteins are influenced by many physiological regulations. Tau proteins are also powerful markers of the neuronal physiological state. Their degree of phosphorylation is a good marker of cell integrity. It is heavily disturbed in numerous neurodegenerative disorders, leading to a collapse of the microtubule network and the presence of intraneuronal lesions resulting from Tau aggregation. However, different biochemical and immunological patterns of pathological Tau proteins found among neurodegenerative disorders are useful markers for the understanding of the role of Tau protein isoforms and the diagnosis of these pathological conditions.

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