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Glycogen synthase kinase-3beta phosphorylates protein tau and rescues the axonopathy in the central nervous system of human four-repeat tau transgenic mice.

Protein tau filaments in brain of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia, and other tauopathies consist of protein tau that is hyperphosphorylated. The responsible kinases operating in vivo in neurons still need to be identified. Here we demonstrate that glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK-3beta) is an effective kinase for protein tau in cerebral neurons in vivo in adult GSK-3beta and GSK-3beta x human tau40 transgenic mice. Phosphorylated protein tau migrates slower during electrophoretic separation and is revealed by phosphorylation-dependent anti-tau antibodies in Western blot analysis. In addition, its capacity to bind to re-assembled paclitaxel (Taxol((R)))-stabilized microtubules is reduced, compared with protein tau isolated from mice not overexpressing GSK-3beta. Co-expression of GSK-3beta reduces the number of axonal dilations and alleviates the motoric impairment that was typical for single htau40 transgenic animals (Spittaels, K., Van den Haute, C., Van Dorpe, J., Bruynseels, K., Vandezande, K., Laenen, I., Geerts, H., Mercken, M., Sciot, R., Van Lommel, A., Loos, R., and Van Leuven, F. (1999) Am. J. Pathol. 155, 2153-2165). Although more hyperphosphorylated protein tau is available, neither an increase in insoluble protein tau aggregates nor the presence of paired helical filaments or tangles was observed. These findings could have therapeutic implications in the field of neurodegeneration, as discussed.

Pubmed ID: 11007782


  • Spittaels K
  • Van den Haute C
  • Van Dorpe J
  • Geerts H
  • Mercken M
  • Bruynseels K
  • Lasrado R
  • Vandezande K
  • Laenen I
  • Boon T
  • Van Lint J
  • Vandenheede J
  • Moechars D
  • Loos R
  • Van Leuven F


The Journal of biological chemistry

Publication Data

December 29, 2000

Associated Grants


Mesh Terms

  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Brain
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinases
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Activity
  • Phosphorylation
  • Solubility
  • Spinal Cord
  • tau Proteins