Tau phosphorylation and kinase activation in familial tauopathy linked to deln296 mutation

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2003 Feb;29(1):23-34. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2990.2003.00435.x.


Tau phosphorylation has been examined by immunohistochemistry in the brain of a patient affected with familial tauopathy with progressive supranuclear palsy-like phenotype linked to the delN296 mutation in the tau gene. Phospho-specific tau antibodies Thr181, Ser202, Ser214, Ser396 and Ser422, and antibodies to glycogen synthase kinase-3alpha/beta (GSK-3alpha/beta) and to phosphorylated (P) mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinases (MAPK/ERK), stress-activated protein kinase/c-Jun N-terminal kinase (SAPK/JNK), p38 kinase (p38) and GSK-3betaSer9 have been used to gain understanding of the identification of phosphorylation sites, as well as of the specific kinases that regulate tau phosphorylation at those specific sites, in a familial tauopathy. The neuropathological examination disclosed atrophy of the right precentral gyrus and the brainstem. Neurone loss and gliosis were observed in the substantia nigra, several nuclei of the brainstem and diencephalon. Hyper-phosphorylated tau accumulated in neurones with neurofibrillary tangles and in neurones with pretangles in the substantia nigra, locus ceruleus, peri-aqueductal grey matter, reticular formation, motor nuclei of the brainstem, and thalamus, amygdala and hippocampus. tau-immunoreactive astrocytes and, particularly, oligodendrocytes with coiled bodies were widespread in the brainstem, diencephalons, cerebral white matter and cerebral cortex. Increased expression of MAPK/ERK-P, SAPK/JNK-P, p-38-P and GSK-3beta-P was observed in select subpopulations of neurones with neurofibrillary tangles and in neurones with pretangles. MAPK/ERK-P, SAPK/JNK-P, p38-P and GSK-3beta-P were also expressed in tau-containing astrocytes and in oligodendrocytes with coiled bodies. These findings show, for the first time, activation of precise kinases that regulate tau phosphorylation at specific sites in familial tauopathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Astrocytes / pathology
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / metabolism
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Tauopathies / enzymology*
  • Tauopathies / pathology
  • Tauopathies / physiopathology
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • tau Proteins
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases