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A combinatorial native MS and LC-MS/MS approach reveals high intrinsic phosphorylation of human Tau but minimal levels of other key modifications

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Mandelkow,  Eva-Maria
Neuronal Cytoskeleton and Alzheimer's Disease, Cooperations, Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar), Max Planck Society;

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Mandelkow,  Eckhard
Neuronal Cytoskeleton and Alzheimer's Disease, Cooperations, Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar), Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Drepper, F., Biernat, J., Kaniyappan, S., Meyer, H. E., Mandelkow, E.-M., Warscheid, B., et al. (2020). A combinatorial native MS and LC-MS/MS approach reveals high intrinsic phosphorylation of human Tau but minimal levels of other key modifications. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 295(52), 18213-18225. doi:10.1074/jbc.RA120.015882.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-D13F-7
Abstract
Abnormal changes of neuronal Tau protein, such as phosphorylation and aggregation, are considered hallmarks of cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease. Abnormal phosphorylation is thought to precede aggregation and therefore to promote aggregation, but the nature and extent of phosphorylation remain ill-defined. Tau contains ∼85 potential phosphorylation sites, which can be phosphorylated by various kinases because the unfolded structure of Tau makes them accessible. However, methodological limitations (e.g. in MS of phosphopeptides, or antibodies against phosphoepitopes) led to conflicting results regarding the extent of Tau phosphorylation in cells. Here we present results from a new approach based on native MS of intact Tau expressed in eukaryotic cells (Sf9). The extent of phosphorylation is heterogeneous, up to ∼20 phosphates per molecule distributed over 51 sites. The medium phosphorylated fraction Pm showed overall occupancies of ∼8 Pi (± 5) with a bell-shaped distribution; the highly phosphorylated fraction Ph had 14 Pi (± 6). The distribution of sites was highly asymmetric (with 71% of all P-sites in the C-terminal half of Tau). All sites were on Ser or Thr residues, but none were on Tyr. Other known posttranslational modifications were near or below our detection limit (e.g. acetylation, ubiquitination). These findings suggest that normal cellular Tau shows a remarkably high extent of phosphorylation, whereas other modifications are nearly absent. This implies that abnormal phosphorylations at certain sites may not affect the extent of phosphorylation significantly and do not represent hyperphosphorylation. By implication, the pathological aggregation of Tau is not likely a consequence of high phosphorylation.