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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Volume 478, Issue 2, September 2016, Pages 929-934.

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Abnormal phosphorylation of the microtubule-associated protein tau is observed in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). AD-related phosphorylation of two tau residues, Ser262 and Ser356, by PAR-1/MARK stabilizes tau in the initial phase of mismetabolism, leading to subsequent phosphorylation events, accumulation, and toxicity. However, the relative contribution of phosphorylation at each of these sites to tau stabilization has not yet been elucidated. In a Drosophila model of human tau toxicity, we found that tau was phosphorylated at Ser262, but not at Ser356, and that blocking Ser262 phosphorylation decreased total tau levels. By contrast, when PAR-1 was co-overexpressed with tau, tau was hyperphosphorylated at both Ser262 and Ser356. Under these conditions, the protein levels of tau were significantly elevated, and prevention of tau phosphorylation at both residues was necessary to completely suppress this elevation. These results suggest that tau phosphorylation at Ser262 plays the predominant role in tau stabilization when PAR-1/MARK activity is normal, whereas Ser356 phosphorylation begins to contribute to this process when PAR-1/MARK activity is abnormally elevated, as in diseased brains.

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