Background: Tau is a heterogeneous microtubule-associated protein that promotes and stabilizes microtubule assembly, especially in axons. Six isoforms with different amino-terminal inserts and different numbers of tandem repeats near the carboxy terminus have been identified, and tau is hyperphosphorylated at approximately 25 sites by ERK, GSK-3, and CDK5 (1,2). Phosphorylation decreases the ability of tau to bind to microtubules. Neurofibrillary tangles are a major hallmark of Alzheimer's disease; these tangles are bundles of paired helical filaments composed of hyperphosphorylated tau. In particular, phosphorylation at Ser396 by GSK-3 or CDK5 destabilizes microtubules. Furthermore, research studies have shown that inclusions of tau are found in a number of other neurodegenerative diseases, collectively known as tauopathies (1,3). The cerebrospinal fluid concentration of tau phosphorylated at Thr181 has been proposed to be a biomarker for the study of neurodegenerative disorders (4).Amyloid β (Aβ) precursor protein (APP) is a 100-140 kDa transmembrane glycoprotein that exists as several isoforms (4). The amino acid sequence of APP contains the amyloid domain, which can be released by a two-step proteolytic cleavage (4). The extracellular deposition and accumulation of the released Aβ fragments form the main components of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease (4). APP can be phosphorylated at several sites, which may affect the proteolytic processing and secretion of this protein (5-8). Aβ-43 has been suggested as a biomarker in early onset of Alzheimer's disease, where patients have lower levels of Aβ-43 in cerebrospinal fluid (8-10). Several studies have shown that Aβ toxicity of Aβ-43 is as high as Aβ-42 or Aβ-40 in different models of Alzheimer's disease, including mouse models and human disease (10).
Background: Insulin and IGF-1 act on two closely related tyrosine kinase receptors to initiate a cascade of signaling events. These signaling events activate a variety of biological molecules, including kinases and transcription factors, which regulate cell growth, survival and metabolism.Type I insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-IR) is a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase that is widely expressed in many cell lines and cell types within fetal and postnatal tissues (1-3). Three tyrosine residues within the kinase domain (Tyr1131, Tyr1135, and Tyr1136) are the earliest major autophosphorylation sites (4). Phosphorylation of these three tyrosine residues is necessary for kinase activation (5,6). Insulin receptors (IRs) share significant structural and functional similarity with IGF-I receptors, including the presence of an equivalent tyrosine cluster (Tyr1146/1150/1151) within the kinase domain activation loop. Tyrosine autophosphorylation of IRs is one of the earliest cellular responses to insulin stimulation (7). Autophosphorylation begins with phosphorylation at Tyr1146 and either Tyr1150 or Tyr1151, while full kinase activation requires triple tyrosine phosphorylation (8).Akt, also referred to as PKB or Rac, plays a critical role in controlling survival and apoptosis (9-11). This protein kinase is activated by insulin and various growth and survival factors to function in a wortmannin-sensitive pathway involving PI3 kinase (10,11). Akt is activated by phospholipid binding and activation loop phosphorylation at Thr308 by PDK1 (12) and by phosphorylation within the carboxy terminus at Ser473. The previously elusive PDK2 responsible for phosphorylation of Akt at Ser473 has been identified as mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in a rapamycin-insensitive complex with rictor and Sin1 (13,14).Tuberin is a product of the TSC2 tumor suppressor gene and an important regulator of cell proliferation and tumor development (15). Tuberin is phosphorylated on Ser939 and Thr1462 in response to PI3K activation and the human TSC complex is a direct biochemical target of the PI3K/Akt pathway (16). This result complements Drosophila genetics studies suggesting the possible involvement of the tuberin-hamartin complex in the PI3K/Akt mediated insulin pathway (17-19).The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR, FRAP, RAFT) is a Ser/Thr protein kinase (20-22) that functions as an ATP and amino acid sensor to balance nutrient availability and cell growth (23,24). When sufficient nutrients are available, mTOR responds to a phosphatidic acid-mediated signal to transmit a positive signal to p70 S6 kinase and participate in the inactivation of the eIF4E inhibitor, 4E-BP1 (25). These events result in the translation of specific mRNA subpopulations. mTOR is phosphorylated at Ser2448 via the PI3 kinase/Akt signaling pathway and autophosphorylated at Ser2481 (26,27).The Forkhead family of transcription factors is involved in tumorigenesis of rhabdomyosarcoma and acute leukemias (28-30). Within the family, three members (FoxO1, FoxO4, and FoxO3a) have sequence similarity to the nematode orthologue DAF-16, which mediates signaling via a pathway involving IGFR1, PI3K, and Akt (31-33). Active forkhead members act as tumor suppressors by promoting cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Increased proliferation results when forkhead transcription factors are inactivated through phosphorylation by Akt at Thr24, Ser256, and Ser319, which results in nuclear export and inhibition of transcription factor activity (34).Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) was initially identified as an enzyme that regulates glycogen synthesis in response to insulin (35). GSK-3 is a critical downstream element of the PI3K/Akt cell survival pathway whose activity can be inhibited by Akt-mediated phosphorylation at Ser21 of GSK-3α and Ser9 of GSK-3β (36,37).
Background: Amyloid β (Aβ) precursor protein (APP) is a 100-140 kDa transmembrane glycoprotein that exists as several isoforms (1). The amino acid sequence of APP contains an amyloid domain, which can be processed and released by two-step proteolytic cleavage (1). The extracellular deposition and accumulation of the released Aβ fragments form the main components of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease (1). Several fragments corresponding to progressive APP processing at alternative cleavage sites have been identified (2). These include Aβ (1-37), Aβ (1-39), Aβ (1-40), and Aβ (1-42) (2). These fragments can also be N-terminally modified to generate pyroglutamate-3 Aβ (pE3-peptide) (3). Fragment-specific and pan-Aβ antibodies are used to detect and examine relative levels of individual Aβ fragments.