Gatekeeper of the Cellular Highway: Study Reveals Novel Behaviors of the Alzheimer’s Disease Protein Tau

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In a new study appearing in Nature Cell Biology, UC Davis researchers found that tau molecules can congregate together in a novel, reversible way, which appears to be distinct from the irreversible tangle formation observed in neurodegenerative disease. N Molecular Systems, Inc.

In the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury and other neurodegenerative disorders, insoluble fibers composed of a protein called tau build up inside of neurons, eventually creating a tangled mess characteristic of these diseases.

“These tangles grow and grow and grow inside of the cells and at some point that gums up the works so much that the cell just dies,” said Assistant Professor Richard McKenney, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. “But (after death) the protein plaques are left behind and can possibly spread to other cells in the brain.”

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