Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common type of dementia among the elderly. Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), a major pathological hallmark of AD, are composed of tau protein that is hyperphosphorylated by cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) and glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β). NFTs also contain Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein family verprolin-homologous protein 1 (WAVE1) and collapsin response-mediator protein 2 (CRMP2). Although Cdk5 is known to phosphorylate tau, WAVE1, and CRMP2, the significance of this with respect to NFT formation remains to be elucidated. This study examines the involvement of phosphorylated (p-) CRMP2 and WAVE1 in p-tau aggregates using a triple-transgenic (3×Tg; APPswe/PS1M146V/tauP301L) AD mouse model. First, we verified the colocalization of p-WAVE1 and p-CRMP2 with aggregated hyperphosphorylated tau in the hippocampus at 23 months of age. Biochemical analysis revealed the inclusion of p-WAVE1, p-CRMP2, and tau in the sarkosyl-insoluble fractions of hippocampal homogenates. To test the significance of phosphorylation of these proteins further, we administered all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) to the 3×Tg mice, which downregulates Cdk5 and GSK3β activity. In ATRA-treated mice, fewer and smaller tau aggregates were observed compared with non-ATRA-treated mice. These results suggest the possibility of novel therapeutic target molecules for preventing tau pathology.
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