Constitutive Dyrk1A is abnormally expressed in Alzheimer disease, Down syndrome, Pick disease, and related transgenic models

Neurobiol Dis. 2005 Nov;20(2):392-400. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2005.03.020.


DYRK1A, dual-specificity tyrosine-regulated kinase 1A, maps to human chromosome 21 within the Down syndrome (DS) critical region. Dyrk1 phosphorylates the human microtubule-associated protein tau at Thr212 in vitro, a residue that is phosphorylated in fetal tau and hyper-phosphorylated in Alzheimer disease (AD) and tauopathies, including Pick disease (PiD). Furthermore, phosphorylation of Thr212 primes tau for phosphorylation by glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3). The present study examines Dyrk1A in the cerebral cortex of sporadic AD, adult DS with associated AD, and PiD. Increased Dyrk1A immunoreactivity has been found in the cytoplasm and nuclei of scattered neurons of the neocortex, entorhinal cortex, and hippocampus in AD, DS, and PiD. Dyrk1A is found in sarkosyl-insoluble fractions which are enriched in phosphorylated tau in AD brains, thus suggesting a possible association of Dyrk1A with neurofibrillary tangle pathology. Yet, no clear relationship has been observed between tau phosphorylation at Thr212, and GSK-3 and Dyrk1A expression in diseased brains. Transgenic mice bearing a triple tau mutation (G272V, P301L, and R406W) and expressing hyper-phosphoyrylated tau in neurons of the entorhinal cortex, hippocampus, and cerebral neocortex show increased expression of Dyrk1A in individual neurons in the same regions. However, transgenic mice over-expressing Dyrk1A do not show increased phosphorylation of tau at Thr212, thus suggesting that Dyrk1A over-expression does not trigger per se hyper-phosphorylation of tau at Thr212 in vivo. The present observations indicate modifications in the expression of constitutive Dyrk1A in the cytoplasm and nuclei of neurons in various neurodegenerative diseases associated with tau phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down Syndrome / genetics
  • Down Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Down Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Dyrk Kinases
  • Entorhinal Cortex / metabolism
  • Entorhinal Cortex / pathology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Pick Disease of the Brain / genetics
  • Pick Disease of the Brain / metabolism*
  • Pick Disease of the Brain / physiopathology
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • tau Proteins
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases