Tau protein: relevance to Parkinson's disease

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2010 Nov;42(11):1775-8. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2010.07.016. Epub 2010 Aug 1.


Tau is a microtubule-associated protein linked with neurodegenerative diseases. Humans express six different isoforms of tau; the longest containing four microtubule-binding repeat motifs in the C-terminal that are vital for what is considered the major biological function of tau, to stabilize microtubules and facilitate axonal transport. The capacity of tau to maintain its normal biological function is dependent upon its phosphorylation state. In Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, there is a hyperphosphorylation of tau that leads to the intracellular accumulation of tau in the form of neurofibrillary tangles. While the role of tau in Parkinson's disease has been understated for some time, here we summarize key genetic, pathological and biochemical evidence supporting a role for tau in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. Toxic interactions with alpha synuclein may lead to hyperphosphorylation of tau and eventually to the deposition of both proteins in the disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / genetics
  • Axonal Transport / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • alpha-Synuclein / genetics
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • alpha-Synuclein
  • tau Proteins