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      Roles of tau protein in health and disease

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          Abstract

          Tau is well established as a microtubule-associated protein in neurons. However, under pathological conditions, aberrant assembly of tau into insoluble aggregates is accompanied by synaptic dysfunction and neural cell death in a range of neurodegenerative disorders, collectively referred to as tauopathies. Recent advances in our understanding of the multiple functions and different locations of tau inside and outside neurons have revealed novel insights into its importance in a diverse range of molecular pathways including cell signalling, synaptic plasticity, and regulation of genomic stability. The present review describes the physiological and pathophysiological properties of tau and how these relate to its distribution and functions in neurons. We highlight the post-translational modifications of tau, which are pivotal in defining and modulating tau localisation and its roles in health and disease. We include discussion of other pathologically relevant changes in tau, including mutation and aggregation, and how these aspects impinge on the propensity of tau to propagate, and potentially drive neuronal loss, in diseased brain. Finally, we describe the cascade of pathological events that may be driven by tau dysfunction, including impaired axonal transport, alterations in synapse and mitochondrial function, activation of the unfolded protein response and defective protein degradation. It is important to fully understand the range of neuronal functions attributed to tau, since this will provide vital information on its involvement in the development and pathogenesis of disease. Such knowledge will enable determination of which critical molecular pathways should be targeted by potential therapeutic agents developed for the treatment of tauopathies.

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          Inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3 by insulin mediated by protein kinase B.

          Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3) is implicated in the regulation of several physiological processes, including the control of glycogen and protein synthesis by insulin, modulation of the transcription factors AP-1 and CREB, the specification of cell fate in Drosophila and dorsoventral patterning in Xenopus embryos. GSK3 is inhibited by serine phosphorylation in response to insulin or growth factors and in vitro by either MAP kinase-activated protein (MAPKAP) kinase-1 (also known as p90rsk) or p70 ribosomal S6 kinase (p70S6k). Here we show, however, that agents which prevent the activation of both MAPKAP kinase-1 and p70S6k by insulin in vivo do not block the phosphorylation and inhibition of GSK3. Another insulin-stimulated protein kinase inactivates GSK3 under these conditions, and we demonstrate that it is the product of the proto-oncogene protein kinase B (PKB, also known as Akt/RAC). Like the inhibition of GSK3 (refs 10, 14), the activation of PKB is prevented by inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase.
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            Tau-mediated neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease and related disorders.

            Advances in our understanding of the mechanisms of tau-mediated neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related tauopathies, which are characterized by prominent CNS accumulations of fibrillar tau inclusions, are rapidly moving this previously underexplored disease pathway to centre stage for disease-modifying drug discovery efforts. However, controversies abound concerning whether or not the deleterious effects of tau pathologies result from toxic gains-of-function by pathological tau or from critical losses of normal tau function in the disease state. This Review summarizes the most recent advances in our knowledge of the mechanisms of tau-mediated neurodegeneration to forge an integrated concept of those tau-linked disease processes that drive the onset and progression of AD and related tauopathies.
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              Caspases: the executioners of apoptosis.

              Apoptosis is a major form of cell death, characterized initially by a series of stereotypic morphological changes. In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the gene ced-3 encodes a protein required for developmental cell death. Since the recognition that CED-3 has sequence identity with the mammalian cysteine protease interleukin-1 beta-converting enzyme (ICE), a family of at least 10 related cysteine proteases has been identified. These proteins are characterized by almost absolute specificity for aspartic acid in the P1 position. All the caspases (ICE-like proteases) contain a conserved QACXG (where X is R, Q or G) pentapeptide active-site motif. Capases are synthesized as inactive proenzymes comprising an N-terminal peptide (prodomain) together with one large and one small subunit. The crystal structures of both caspase-1 and caspase-3 show that the active enzyme is a heterotetramer, containing two small and two large subunits. Activation of caspases during apoptosis results in the cleavage of critical cellular substrates, including poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and lamins, so precipitating the dramatic morphological changes of apoptosis. Apoptosis induced by CD95 (Fas/APO-1) and tumour necrosis factor activates caspase-8 (MACH/FLICE/Mch5), which contains an N-terminus with FADD (Fas-associating protein with death domain)-like death effector domains, so providing a direct link between cell death receptors and the caspases. The importance of caspase prodomains in the regulation of apoptosis is further highlighted by the recognition of adapter molecules, such as RAIDD [receptor-interacting protein (RIP)-associated ICH-1/CED-3-homologous protein with a death domain]/CRADD (caspase and RIP adapter with death domain), which binds to the prodomain of caspase-2 and recruits it to the signalling complex. Cells undergoing apoptosis following triggering of death receptors execute the death programme by activating a hierarchy of caspases, with caspase-8 and possibly caspase-10 being at or near the apex of this apoptotic cascade.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                +44 (0) 20 7848 0041 , Diane.Hanger@kcl.ac.uk
                Journal
                Acta Neuropathol
                Acta Neuropathol
                Acta Neuropathologica
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                0001-6322
                1432-0533
                6 April 2017
                6 April 2017
                2017
                : 133
                : 5
                : 665-704
                Affiliations
                GRID grid.13097.3c, Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, , King’s College London, ; London, SE5 9NU UK
                Article
                1707
                10.1007/s00401-017-1707-9
                5390006
                28386764
                c9c62fc3-e2f2-4df3-83e0-09159336223b
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100002283, Alzheimer’s Research UK;
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000320, Alzheimer's Society;
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000268, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council;
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000849, National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research;
                Categories
                Review
                Custom metadata
                © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

                Neurology
                tau,microtubule binding,alzheimer’s disease,tauopathy,synaptic dysfunction,propagation
                Neurology
                tau, microtubule binding, alzheimer’s disease, tauopathy, synaptic dysfunction, propagation

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