Downregulation of protein phosphatase 2A carboxyl methylation and methyltransferase may contribute to Alzheimer disease pathogenesis

Estelle Sontag, Christa Hladik, Lisa Montgomery, Ampa Luangpirom, Ingrid Mudrak, Egon Ogris, Charles L. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

139 Scopus citations


ABαC, a major protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) heterotrimeric enzyme, binds to and regulates the microtubule cytoskeleton and tau. We have shown that ABαC protein expression levels are selectively reduced in Alzheimer disease (AD). Notably, the carboxyl methylation of PP2A catalytic subunit (PP2AC) is critically required for ABαC holoenzyme assembly, and catalyzed by a specific methyltransferase (PPMT). Here, we provide the first analysis of human PPMT and methylated PP2AC in brain regions from AD, non-AD demented, and aged control autopsy cases. Immunoblotting analyses revealed that PPMT protein expression and PP2AC methylation levels were quantitatively decreased in AD-affected brain regions. Immunohistochemical studies showed that PPMT was abundant in neurons throughout the cortex in normal control and non-AD demented cases. However, in AD, there was a regional loss of PPMT immunoreactivity that closely paralleled the severity of tau pathology, but not amyloid plaque burden. We propose that the deregulation of PPMT and PP2A methylation/demethylation cycles contributes to AD pathogenesis, by inducing changes in PP2A heteromultimeric composition and substrate specificity. In turn, PP2A dysfunction compromises the mechanisms that control tau, neuronal plasticity, and survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1080-1091
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Alzheimer disease
  • Amyloid
  • Brain
  • Methylation
  • Methyltransferase
  • PP2A
  • Tau

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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