Tau-tubulin kinase 1 and amyloid-β peptide induce phosphorylation of collapsin response mediator protein-2 and enhance neurite degeneration in Alzheimer disease mouse models

Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2020 Feb 4;8(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s40478-020-0890-4.


The accumulation of phosphorylated tau protein (pTau) in the entorhinal cortex (EC) is the earliest tau pathology in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Tau tubulin kinase-1 (TTBK1) is a neuron-specific tau kinase and expressed in the EC and hippocampal regions in both human and mouse brains. Here we report that collapsin response mediator protein-2 (CRMP2), a critical mediator of growth cone collapse, is a new downstream target of TTBK1 and is accumulated in the EC region of early stage AD brains. TTBK1 transgenic mice show severe axonal degeneration in the perforant path, which is exacerbated by crossing with Tg2576 mice expressing Swedish familial AD mutant of amyloid precursor protein (APP). TTBK1 mice show accumulation of phosphorylated CRMP2 (pCRMP2), in the EC at 10 months of age, whereas age-matched APP/TTBK1 bigenic mice show pCRMP2 accumulation in both the EC and hippocampal regions. Amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) and TTBK1 suppress the kinetics of microtubule polymerization and TTBK1 reduces the neurite length of primary cultured neurons in Rho kinase-dependent manner in vitro. Silencing of TTBK1 or expression of dominant-negative Rho kinase demonstrates that Aβ induces CRMP2 phosphorylation at threonine 514 in a TTBK1-dependent manner, and TTBK1 enhances Aβ-induced CRMP2 phosphorylation in Rho kinase-dependent manner in vitro. Furthermore, TTBK1 expression induces pCRMP2 complex formation with pTau in vitro, which is enhanced upon Aβ stimulation in vitro. Finally, pCRMP2 forms a complex with pTau in the EC tissue of TTBK1 mice in vivo, which is exacerbated in both the EC and hippocampal tissues in APP/TTBK1 mice. These results suggest that TTBK1 and Aβ induce phosphorylation of CRMP2, which may be causative for the neurite degeneration and somal accumulation of pTau in the EC neurons, indicating critical involvement of TTBK1 and pCRMP2 in the early AD pathology.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid precursor protein; Amyloid-β peptide; Collapsin response mediator protein-2; Entorhinal cortex; Hippocampus; Microtubule-associated protein tau; Rho kinase; Tau-tubulin kinase 1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Entorhinal Cortex / metabolism
  • Entorhinal Cortex / pathology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurites / pathology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / pathology


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • collapsin response mediator protein-2
  • tau-tubulin kinase
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases