Molecular Neurobiology


Activation of PP2A-like phosphatase and modulation of tau phosphorylation accompany stress-induced apoptosis in cultured oligodendrocytes.
Goldbaum O, Richter-Landsberg C.; Glia 2002 Dec;40(3):271-82
In a number of neurodegenerative diseases, tau-positive glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs), immunochemically labeled with antibodies to the small heat shock protein (HSP) alphaB-crystallin, occur in oligodendrocytes. The microtubule-associated protein tau is functionally modulated by phosphorylation. We have shown previously that oxidative stress (OS) and heat shock (HS) induce apoptotic cell death in oligodendrocytes. The present study was undertaken to test whether stress responses in oligodendrocytes cause abnormalities in the expression and posttranslational modification of tau proteins, and whether the dynamic phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of tau are involved in the pathogenesis of glial cells. Cultured rat brain oligodendrocytes were subjected to OS, exerted by hydrogen peroxide, or HS (44 degrees C, 30 min). Immunoblot analysis with a panel of phosphorylation-dependent antibodies shows that OS and HS caused the rapid dephosphorylation of tau proteins at multiple sites, before characteristic features of apoptosis were observed. Concomitantly, ERK1,2 (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) was activated. Tau phosphorylation and rephosphorylation after stress was mediated by glycogen synthase kinase 3beta (GSK-3beta), and not by ERK1,2 and could be suppressed by lithium chloride, a specific inhibitor of GSK-3beta. Stress-induced dephosphorylation could be mimicked by alkaline phosphatase and suppressed by the protein phosphatase inhibitor okadaic acid (OA), indicating that PP2A in oligodendrocytes is activated by stress. OA at low concentrations could prevent stress-induced DNA fragmentation, but eventually exerted cytotoxic effects. Hence, stress-induced activation of PP2A in oligodendrocytes and tau dephosphorylation constitute a major feature of the response to injury in these cells, which eventually undergo apoptotic cell death.