Kristen E Funk

The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, United States

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Publications (6)28.69 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD), neurofibrillary lesion formation is preceded by extensive post-translational modification of the microtubule associated protein tau. To identify the modification signature associated with tau lesion formation at single amino acid resolution, immunopurified paired helical filaments were isolated from AD brain and subjected to nanoflow liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis. The resulting spectra identified monomethylation of lysine residues as a new tau modification. The methyl-lysine was distributed among seven residues located in the projection and microtubule binding repeat regions of tau protein, with one site, K254, being a substrate for a competing lysine modification, ubiquitylation. To characterize methyl lysine content in intact tissue, hippocampal sections prepared from post mortem late-stage AD cases were subjected to double-label confocal fluorescence microscopy using anti-tau and anti-methyl lysine antibodies. Anti-methyl lysine immunoreactivity colocalized with 78 ± 13% of neurofibrillary tangles in these specimens. Together these data provide the first evidence that tau in neurofibrillary lesions is post-translationally modified by lysine methylation.
    Acta Neuropathologica 01/2012; 123(1):105-17. · 9.73 Impact Factor
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    Kristen E Funk, Jeff Kuret
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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease is characterized pathologically by extracellular senile plaques, intracellular neurofibrillary tangles, and granulovacuolar degeneration. It has been debated whether these hallmark lesions are markers or mediators of disease progression, and numerous paradigms have been proposed to explain the appearance of each lesion individually. However, the unfaltering predictability of these lesions suggests a single pathological nidus central to disease onset and progression. One of the earliest pathologies observed in Alzheimer's disease is endocytic dysfunction. Here we review the recent literature of endocytic dysfunction with particular focus on disrupted lysosomal fusion and propose it as a unifying hypothesis for the three most-studied lesions of Alzheimer's disease.
    International journal of Alzheimer's disease. 01/2012; 2012:752894.
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    ABSTRACT: Tau-bearing neurofibrillary lesions present a promising biomarker for premortem diagnosis and staging of Alzheimer's disease and certain forms of frontotemporal lobar degeneration by whole brain imaging methods. Although brain penetrating compounds capable of binding tau aggregates with high affinity have been disclosed for this purpose, the major barrier to progress remains the need for tau lesion binding selectivity relative to amyloid-beta plaques and other deposits of proteins in cross-beta-sheet conformation. Here we discuss challenges faced in the development of tau lesion-selective imaging agents, and recent preclinical advances in pursuit of this goal.
    Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 01/2011; 26 Suppl 3:147-57. · 4.17 Impact Factor
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    K E Funk, R E Mrak, J Kuret
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    ABSTRACT: Granulovacuolar degeneration involves the accumulation of large, double membrane-bound bodies within certain neurones during the course of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other adult-onset dementias. Because of the two-layer membrane morphology, it has been proposed that the bodies are related to autophagic organelles. The aim of this study was to test this hypothesis, and determine the approximate stage at which the pathway stalls in AD. Spatial colocalization of autophagic and endocytic markers with casein kinase 1 delta, a marker for granulovacuolar degeneration (GVD) bodies, was evaluated in hippocampal sections prepared from post mortem Braak stage IV and V AD cases using double-label confocal fluorescence microscopy. GVD bodies colocalized weakly with early-stage autophagy markers LC3 and p62, but strongly with late-stage marker lysosome-associated membrane protein 1 (LAMP1), which decorated their surrounding membranes. GVD bodies also colocalized strongly with charged multivesicular body protein 2B (CHMP2B), which colocalized with the core granule, but less strongly with lysosomal marker cathepsin D. The resultant immunohistochemical signature suggests that granulovacuolar degeneration bodies (GVBs) do contain late-stage autophagic markers, and accumulate at the nexus of autophagic and endocytic pathways. The data further suggest that failure to complete autolysosome formation may be an important correlate of GVB accumulation.
    Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology 10/2010; 37(3):295-306. · 4.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed by postmortem detection of pathological lesions that accumulate in specific brain regions. Although the presence of both beta-amyloid plaques and tau-bearing neurofibrillary lesions defines Alzheimer's disease, the distribution of neurofibrillary lesions alone correlates strongly with neurodegeneration and cognitive decline. A whole-brain imaging test capable of detecting these lesions in premortem cases could have great potential for staging and differentially diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. Here we discuss the challenges in developing a whole-brain imaging approach for detection of this intracellular target.
    Current Alzheimer research 05/2010; 7(3):230-4. · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent results from high-throughput and other screening approaches reveal that small molecules can directly interact with recombinant full-length tau monomers and fibrillar tau aggregates in three distinct modes. First, in the high concentration regime (>10 micromolar), certain anionic molecules such as Congo red efficiently promote tau filament formation through a nucleation-elongation mechanism involving a dimeric nucleus and monomer-mediated elongation. These compounds are useful for modeling tau aggregation in vitro and in biological models. Second, in the low concentration regime (<1 micromolar), other ligands, including cyanine dyes, display aggregation antagonist activity. Compounds that can prevent or reverse fibrillization are candidate modifiers of disease pathology. Finally, certain compounds bind mature tau fibrils with varying affinities at multiple binding sites without modulating the aggregation reaction. For some ligands, >10-fold selectivity for tau aggregates relative to filaments composed of beta-amyloid or alpha-synuclein can be demonstrated at the level of binding affinity. Together these observations suggest that small-molecules have utility for interrogating the tau aggregation pathway, for inhibiting neuritic lesion formation, and for selective pre-mortem detection of neurofibrillary lesions through whole brain imaging.
    Current Alzheimer research 10/2009; 6(5):409-14. · 4.97 Impact Factor