Characterization of tau phosphorylation in glycogen synthase kinase-3beta and cyclin dependent kinase-5 activator (p23) transfected cells

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Apr 10;1380(2):177-82. doi: 10.1016/s0304-4165(97)00139-6.


One of the histopathological markers in Alzheimer's disease is the accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau in neurons called neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) composing paired helical filaments (PHF). Combined tau protein kinase II (TPK II), which consists of CDK5 and its activator (p23), and glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK-3beta) phosphorylate tau to the PHF-form in vitro. To investigate tau phosphorylation by these kinases in intact cells, the phosphorylation sites were examined in detail using well-characterized phosphorylation-dependent anti-tau antibodies after overexpressing the kinases in COS-7 cells with a human tau isoform. The overexpression of tau in COS-7 cells showed extensive phosphorylation at Ser-202 and Ser-404. The p23 overexpression induced a mobility shift of tau, but most of the phosphorylation sites overlapped the endogenous phosphorylation sites. GSK-3beta transfection showed the phosphorylation at Ser-199, Thr-231, Ser-396, and Ser-413. Triplicated transfection resulted in phosphorylation of tau at 8 observed sites (Ser-199, Ser-202, Thr-205, Thr-231, Ser-235, Ser-396, Ser-404, and Ser-413).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Binding Sites / immunology
  • COS Cells
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinases
  • Phosphorylation
  • Serine / immunology
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Transfection
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • Antibodies
  • tau Proteins
  • Serine
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinases
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases