Author(s): Dickey CA, Koren J, Zhang YJ, Xu YF, Jinwal UK,
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Abstract A hallmark of the pathology of Alzheimer's disease is the accumulation of the microtubule-associated protein tau into fibrillar aggregates. Recent studies suggest that they accumulate because cytosolic chaperones fail to clear abnormally phosphorylated tau, preserving a pool of toxic tau intermediates within the neuron. We describe a mechanism for tau clearance involving a major cellular kinase, Akt. During stress, Akt is ubiquitinated and degraded by the tau ubiquitin ligase CHIP, and this largely depends on the Hsp90 complex. Akt also prevents CHIP-induced tau ubiquitination and its subsequent degradation, either by regulating the Hsp90/CHIP complex directly or by competing as a client protein with tau for binding. Akt levels tightly regulate the expression of CHIP, such that, as Akt levels are suppressed, CHIP levels also decrease, suggesting a potential stress response feedback mechanism between ligase and kinase activity. We also show that Akt and the microtubule affinity-regulating kinase 2 (PAR1/MARK2), a known tau kinase, interact directly. Akt enhances the activity of PAR1 to promote tau hyperphosphorylation at S262/S356, a tau species that is not recognized by the CHIP/Hsp90 complex. Moreover, Akt1 knockout mice have reduced levels of tau phosphorylated at PAR1/MARK2 consensus sites. Hence, Akt serves as a major regulator of tau biology by manipulating both tau kinases and protein quality control, providing a link to several common pathways that have demonstrated dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Alzheimers Disease & Parkinsonism