Differential interaction and aggregation of 3-repeat and 4-repeat tau isoforms with 14-3-3zeta protein

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 May 22;383(1):37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.03.107. Epub 2009 Mar 24.


Tau isoforms, 3-repeat (3R) and 4-repeat tau (4R), are differentially involved in neuronal development and in several tauopathies. 14-3-3 protein binds to tau and 14-3-3/tau association has been found both in the development and in tauopathies. To understand the role of 14-3-3 in the differential regulation of tau isoforms, we have performed studies on the interaction and aggregation of 3R-tau and 4R-tau, either phosphorylated or unphosphorylated, with 14-3-3zeta. We show by surface plasmon resonance studies that the interaction between unphosphorylated 3R-tau and 14-3-3zeta is approximately 3-folds higher than that between unphosphorylated 4R-tau and 14-3-3zeta. Phosphorylation of tau by protein kinase A (PKA) increases the affinity of both 3R- and 4R-tau for 14-3-3zeta to a similar level. An in vitro aggregation assay employing both transmission electron microscopy and fluorescence spectroscopy revealed the aggregation of unphosphorylated 4R-tau to be significantly higher than that of unphosphorylated 3R-tau following the induction of 14-3-3zeta. The filaments formed from 3R- and 4R-tau were almost similar in morphology. In contrast, the aggregation of both 3R- and 4R-tau was reduced to a similar low level after phosphorylation with PKA. Taken together, these results suggest that 14-3-3zeta exhibits a similar role for tau isoforms after PKA-phosphorylation, but a differential role for unphosphorylated tau. The significant aggregation of 4R-tau by 14-3-3zeta suggests that 14-3-3 may act as an inducer in the generation of 4R-tau-predominant neurofibrillary tangles in tauopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 14-3-3 Proteins / chemistry
  • 14-3-3 Proteins / genetics
  • 14-3-3 Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Isoforms / chemistry
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Repetitive Sequences, Amino Acid*
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance
  • Tauopathies / metabolism*
  • tau Proteins / chemistry
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • 14-3-3 Proteins
  • MAPT protein, human
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • tau Proteins