The progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with an increase of phosphorylated tau in the brain. One of the earliest phosphorylated sites on tau is Ser262 that is preferentially phosphorylated by microtubule affinity regulating kinase (MARK), of which four isoforms exist. Herein we investigated the expression of MARK1-4 in the hippocampus of non-demented elderly (NDE) and AD cases.
The microtubule-affinity regulating kinase (MARK) family consists of four highly conserved members that have been implicated in phosphorylation of tau protein, causing formation of neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimers disease (AD). Understanding of roles by individual MARK isoform in phosphorylating tau has been limited due to lack of antibodies selective for each MARK isoform. In this study, we first applied the proximity ligation assay on cells to select antibodies specific for each MARK isoform. In cells, a CagA peptide specifically and significantly inhibited tau phosphorylation at Ser²?² mediated by MARK4 but not other MARK isoforms. We then used these antibodies to study expression levels of MARK isoforms and interactions between tau and individual MARK isoforms in postmortem human brains. We found a strong and significant elevation of MARK4 expression and MARK4-tau interactions in AD brains, correlating with the Braak stages of the disease. These results suggest the MARK4-tau interactions are of functional importance in the progression of AD and the results also identify MARK4 as a promising target for AD therapy.
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