When the stress-related protein FKBP51 partners with another protein known as Hsp90, this formidable chaperone protein complex prevents the clearance from the brain of the toxic tau protein associated with Alzheimer's disease.
The USF study was done using test tube experiments, mice genetically engineered to produce abnormal tau protein like that accumulated in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, and post-mortem human Alzheimer's brain tissue.
The researchers report that FKBP51 levels increase with age in the brain, and then the stress-related protein partners with Hsp90 to make tau more deadly to the brain cells involved in memory formation.
Hsp90 is a chaperone protein, which supervises the activity of tau inside nerve cells. Chaperone proteins typically help ensure that tau proteins are properly folded to maintain the healthy structure of nerve cells.
However, as FKBP51 levels rise with age, they usurp Hsp90's beneficial effect to promote tau toxicity.
The study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
--ANI (Posted on 05-09-2013)