Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have determined that a well-known chemical process called acetylation has a previously unrecognized association with one of the biological processes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. The findings were published in the latest issue of Nature Communications.
Tau is one of the primary disease proteins associated with a suite of neurodegenerative diseases. Tau proteins are expressed primarily in the central nervous system where they help with the assembly and stability of microtubules, protein structures that are the backbone of the nerve-cell communication system.
“Acetylation was only detected in diseased brain tissue from patients with Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal degeneration, suggesting it may have a role in tau transformation linked to disease onset and progression,” says senior author Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, director of Penn’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research. “This suggests that one type of acetylation is a potential target for drug discovery and biomarker development for Alzheimer’s and related tauopathies.”
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