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2014 Grants - Abisambra
The Impact of Tau on Ribosomal Function in Alzheimer’s Disease
Jose Francisco Abisambra, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky
2014 New Investigator Research Grant
Tau protein plays an important role in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It normally functions to help maintain cell structure and transport nutrients throughout the cell, but in Alzheimer’s disease it becomes abnormally modified and can form neurofibrillary tangles, one of the hallmarks of brain changes associated with disease progression.
Inside the cells, ribosomes are specialized structures that contain the machinery for constructing new proteins. They are found throughout the cell and rely on intact cell structure to be transported to certain areas of the cell. The ribosomes are made in these areas and used locally for normal cellular function.
Jose Francisco Abisambra, Ph.D., and colleagues have observed that tau binds to ribosomes in nerve cells, and that abnormally modified tau, as observed in Alzheimer’s, binds more strongly and can disrupt the ribosome function. The researchers will explore how abnormal tau affects the transport of ribosomes throughout the cell, and to what degree abnormal tau disrupts the ability of ribosomes to make new proteins. These studies will advance our understanding of how abnormal tau disrupts nerve cell function in Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly suggest new targets to slow disease progression.