TAUOPATHIES: A DISTINCT CLASS OF NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES
Ozansoy M, Ba*ak AN
*Corresponding Author: A.Nazl* Ba*ak, Bo*aziçi University, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, 34342, Bebek, Istanbul; Tel.: +212-359-66-79; Fax: +212-359-72-98; E-mail:basak@boun.edu.tr
page: 3

Abstract

Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by neu ronal loss and intraneuronal accumulation of fibrillary materials, of which, neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) are the most common. Neurofibrillary tangles also occur in normal aging and contain the hyperphosphorylated micro tubule-associated protein tau. A detailed presentation is made of the molecular bases of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), postencephalitic parkinsonism, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/parkinsonism- dementia complex (ALS/PDC) of Guam, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), Pick’s disease, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Down’s syndrome, myotonic dystrophy (DM) and Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease, which are considered to be common tauopathies. The unique human tau gene extends over 100 kb of the long arm of chromosome 17 and contains 16 exons. The human brain contains six tau isoforms that contain from 352 to 441 amino acids. To date, 34 pathogenic tau mutations have been described among 101 families affected by FTD with parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17). These mutations may involve alternative splicing of exon 10 that lead to changes in the proportion of 4-repeat- and 3-repeat-tau isoforms, or may modify tau interactions with microtu bules. Tau aggregates differ in degree of phosphorylation and in content of tau isoforms. Five classes of tauopathies have been defined depending on the type of tau aggregates. The key event in tauopathies is the disorganization of the cytoskeleton, which is based on mutations/polymorphisms in the tau gene and lead to nerve cell degeneration. In this review, tauopathies as a distinct class of neurodegenera tive diseases are discussed with emphasis on their molecular pathology and genetics. Key words: Tauopathies; Neurodegeneration; Tau gene, Tau protein, Tau mutations.




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