• Microtubule-associated protein τ;
  • Protein dephosphorylation;
  • Phosphoseryl/phos-phothreonyl-protein phosphatases;
  • Phosphotyrosyl-protein phosphatases;
  • Paired helical filaments;
  • β-Amyloid

Abstract: Microtubule-associated protein τ is known to be hyperphosphorylated in Alzheimer disease brain and this abnormal hyperphosphorylation is associated with an inability of τ to promote the assembly of microtubule in the affected neurons. Our previous studies demonstrated that abnormally phosphorylated τ could be dephosphorylated after treatment with alkaline phosphatase, thereby suggesting that the abnormal phosphorylation of τ might in part be the result of a deficiency of the phosphoprotein phosphatase system in patients with Alzheimer disease. In the present study we used 32P-labeled phosphorylase kinase and poly(Glu.Tyr) 4:1 as substrates to measure phosphoprotein phosphatase activities in Alzheimer disease and control brains. The activities of phosphoseryl/ phosphothreonyl-protein phosphatase types 1, 2A, 2B, and 2C and of phosphotyrosyl-protein phosphatase in frontal gray and white matters from 13 Alzheimer brains were determined and compared with those from 12 age-matched control brains. The activities of type 1 phosphatase and phosphotyrosyl phosphatase in gray matter and of type 2A phosphatase in both gray and white matters were significantly lower in Alzheimer disease brains than in controls. These findings suggest that the hyperphosphorylation of τ in Alzheimer disease brain could result from a protein dephosphorylation defect in vivo. The decrease in the phosphatase activities in Alzheimer disease might also be involved in the formation of β-amyloid by augmenting the amyloidogenic pathway processing of β-amyloid precursor protein.