Molecular interactions among protein phosphatase 2A, tau, and microtubules. Implications for the regulation of tau phosphorylation and the development of tauopathies

Estelle Sontag, Viyada Nunbhakdi-Craig, Gloria Lee, Roland Brandt, Craig Kamibayashi, Jeffrey Kuret, Charles L. White, Marc C. Mumby, George S. Bloom

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Hyperphosphorylated forms of the neuronal microtubule (MT)-associated protein tau are major components of Alzheimer's disease paired helical filaments. Previously, we reported that ABαC, the dominant brain isoform of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), is localized on MTs, binds directly to tau, and is a major tau phosphatase in cells. We now describe direct interactions among tau, PP2A, and MTs at the submolecular level. Using tau deletion mutants, we found that ABαC binds a domain on tau that is indistinguishable from its MT-binding domain. ABαC binds directly to MTs through a site that encompasses its catalytic subunit and is distinct from its binding site for tau, and ABαC and tau bind to different domains on Mrs. Specific PP2A isoforms bind to MTs with distinct affinities in vitro, and these interactions differentially inhibit the ability of PP2A to dephosphorylate various substrates, including tau and tubulin. Finally, tubulin assembly decreases PP2A activity in vitro, suggesting that PP2A activity can be modulated by MT dynamics in vivo. Taken together, these findings indicate how structural interactions among ABαC, tau, and MTs might control the phosphorylation state of tau. Disruption of these normal interactions could contribute significantly to development of tauopathies such as Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25490-25498
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 3 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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