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2010 Grants - Liu
Role of Dyrk1A in Tau Pathology in Alzheimer's Disease
Fei Liu, Ph.D.
Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc. at New York State Institute for Basic Research
New York, New York
2010 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Tau is a protein found in nerve cells that normally functions to help maintain cell structure and to help transport nutrients throughout the cell. In persons with Alzheimer's disease, however, tau becomes abnormally modified by the addition of excess chemical phosphate groups (phosphorylation). Excess phosphorylation of tau causes it to form neurofibrillary tangles, one of the characteristic features of Alzheimer pathology.
Dyrk1A (dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinase 1A) is another protein found in nerve cells, and it is known to phosphorylate tau. Fei Liu, PhD and colleagues have observed that Dyrk1A is found in an abnormal form in the brains of persons with Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, the presence of abnormal Dyrk1A was associated with high levels of tau phosphorylation.
Dr. Liu and colleagues have proposed to study the role of Dyrk1A in the development of neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease. They will study how modification of Dyrk1A during the disease process affects the phosphorylation of tau, as well as the expression of different forms of tau. These studies will provide insights into how abnormal Dyrk1A contributes to the development of Alzheimer pathology, and they may lead to the identification of new strategies for preventing or slowing the development of disease.