Characterization of in vitro glycation sites of tau

Parimala Nacharaju, Li Wen Ko, Shu Hui C. Yen

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34 Scopus citations


Tau is a microtubule-associated protein that loses microtubule binding activity and aggregates into paired helical filaments (PHFs) in Alzheimer's disease. Nonenzymic glycation is one of the posttranslational modifications detected in PHF-tau, but not in normal tau. PHF-tau has reduced ability to bind to microtubules. To determine whether glycation of tau occurs in its microtubule binding domains, we have characterized in vitro glycation sites of the longest isoform of tau, which has four microtubule binding domains (Tau-4). The identified glycation sites are Lys-87, 132, 150, 163, 174, 225, 234, 259, 280, 281,347, 353, and 369. We have also studied glycation of another isoform of tau, which has only three microtubule binding domains (Tau-3). This isoform is modified by glucose 15-20% more slowly than Tau-4. However, the glycation sites appear to be the same in both isoforms, except for Lys-280 and 281; these are located in the second microtubule binding domain, which is missing in Tau-3. Lys-150, 163, and 174 are located within or proximal to the sequence of tau that is involved in the microtubule nucleation activity, and Lys-259, 280, 281, 347, 353, and 369 are located in the microtubule binding domains. Glycation at these sites can affect the functional properties of tau, and advanced glycation at these sites might lead to the formation of insoluble aggregates similar to the ones seen in Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1709-1719
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Glycation sites
  • Tau glycation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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