Tau is modified by tissue transglutaminase in situ: possible functional and metabolic effects of polyamination.

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Tissue transglutaminase (tTG) is up-regulated in Alzheimer’s disease brain and localizes to neurofibrillary tangles with the tau protein. Tau is an in vitro tTG substrate, being cross-linked and/or polyaminated. Further, the Gln and Lys residues in tau that are modified by tTG in vitro are located primarily within or adjacent to the microtubule-binding domains.

Considering these and other previous findings, this study was carried out to determine if tau is modified in situ by tTG in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, and whether tTG-catalyzed tau polyamination modulates the function and/or metabolism of tau in vitro. For these studies, SH-SY5Y cells stably overexpressing tTG were used. tTG coimmunoprecipitated with tau, and elevating intracellular calcium levels with maitotoxin resulted in a 52 +/- 4% increase in the amount of tTG that coimmunoprecipitated with tau.

The increase in association of tTG with tau after treatment with maitotoxin corresponded to a coimmunolocalization of tTG, tTG activity, and tau in the cells. Further, tau was modified by tTG in situ in response to maitotoxin treatment. In vitro polyaminated tau was significantly less susceptible to micro-calpain proteolysis; however, tTG-mediated polyamination of tau did not significantly alter the microtubule-binding capacity of tau.

Thus, tau interacts with and is modified by tTG in situ, and modification of tau by tTG alters its metabolism. These data indicate that tau is likely to be modified physiologically and pathophysiologically by tTG, and tTG may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: J Neurochem 1999 Nov;73(5):1871-80

PMID: 10537045, UI: 20005437

(Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 35294-0017, USA. )

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