The Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are found mainly in highly vulnerable long projection neurons in the Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain. The cholinergic neurons of the cholinergic basal forebrain (CBF) are exquisitely prone to NFT formation, and a progression of cellular changes is associated with tangle formation. However, the molecular events that underlie the formation of these lesions by the microtubule-associated tau protein remain unknown. Studies on the in vitro assembly of tau protomers into filaments strongly suggest that tau's transition from the soluble to the fibrillar form can be driven, in part, by phosphorylation and by C-terminal truncation accomplished in part by the action of caspases. Additionally, isoforms of the casein kinase 1 (CK1) phosphokinase family that deposit in granulovacuolar degeneration bodies (GVDs) are upregulated 10-30 fold in end stage AD. We propose to determine the order of appearance of these tau alterations in correlation with NFT formation in the cholinergic basal forebrain (CBF) long projection neurons. We hypothesize that the formation of the fibrillar pathologies is induced by a definable sequence of molecular events that directly impact tau """"""""s assembly competency through phosphorylation and truncation. We will test this hypothesis by accomplishing the following specific aims: 1. Using antibodies against specific tau phosphopeptides, we propose to determine whether CBF neurons exhibit a progression of site-specific phosphorylation events that correlates with the transition from non-cognitive impairment (NCI), to mild cognitive impairment (MCI), early, and end-stage Alzheimer's disease (AD); 2. We propose to determine the progression of C-terminal tau truncation using well-characterized antibodies to D 421 (the caspase site) and E 391 (another truncation site known to occur in AD); 3. Using antibodies to CKI_, CK18, and CKI_, we will assay for the appearance of GVD bodies in CBF neurons during the progression from NCI-->MCI-->AD; and, 4. Using gene array technology, we propose to determine the relative quantities of CK1 message and the amounts of caspase message in individual CBF neurons from patients with the aforementioned clinical diagnoses.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BDCN-3 (01))
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Miller, Marilyn
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Lagalwar, Sarita; Berry, Robert W; Binder, Lester I (2007) Relation of hippocampal phospho-SAPK/JNK granules in Alzheimer's disease and tauopathies to granulovacuolar degeneration bodies. Acta Neuropathol 113:63-73
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