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Tumor suppressor PTEN affects tau phosphorylation: deficiency in the phosphatase activity of PTEN increases aggregation of an FTDP-17 mutant Tau

Center for Neuroscience and Aging, Burnham Institute for Medical Research, 10901 N, Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.
Molecular Neurodegeneration (Impact Factor: 5.29). 02/2006; 1:7. DOI: 10.1186/1750-1326-1-7
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Aberrant hyperphosphorylation of tau protein has been implicated in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders. Although a number of protein kinases have been shown to phosphorylate tau in vitro and in vivo, the molecular mechanisms by which tau phosphorylation is regulated pathophysiologically are largely unknown. Recently, a growing body of evidence suggests a link between tau phosphorylation and PI3K signaling. In this study, phosphorylation, aggregation and binding to the microtubule of a mutant frontal temporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17) tau in the presence of tumor suppressor PTEN, a major regulatory component in PI3K signaling, were investigated.
Phosphorylation of the human mutant FTDP-17 tau, T40RW, was evaluated using different phospho-tau specific antibodies in the presence of human wild-type or phosphatase activity null mutant PTEN. Among the evaluated phosphorylation sites, the levels of Ser214 and Thr212 phospho-tau proteins were significantly decreased in the presence of wild-type PTEN, and significantly increased when the phosphatase activity null mutant PTEN was ectopically expressed. Fractionation of the mutant tau transfected cells revealed a significantly increased level of soluble tau in cytosol when wild-type PTEN was expressed, and an elevated level of SDS-soluble tau aggregates in the presence of the mutant PTEN. In addition, the filter/trap assays detected more SDS-insoluble mutant tau aggregates in the cells overexpressing the mutant PTEN compared to those in the cells overexpressing wild-type PTEN and control DNA. This notion was confirmed by the immunocytochemical experiment which demonstrated that the overexpression of the phosphatase activity null mutant PTEN caused the mutant tau to form aggregates in the COS-7 cells.
Tumor suppressor PTEN can alleviate the phosphorylation of the mutant FTDP-17 tau at specific sites, and the phosphatase activity null PTEN increases the mutant tau phosphorylation at these sites. The changes of the tau phosphorylation status by ectopic expression of PTEN correlate to the alteration of the mutant tau's cellular distribution. In addition, the overexpression of the mutant PTEN can increase the level of the mutant tau aggregates and lead to the formation of visible aggregates in the cells.

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