β2 adrenergic receptor, protein kinase A (PKA) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathways mediate tau pathology in Alzheimer disease models.J Biol Chem. 2013 Apr 12; 288(15):10298-307.JB
Alzheimer disease (AD) is characterized by neurodegeneration marked by loss of synapses and spines associated with hyperphosphorylation of tau protein. Accumulating amyloid β peptide (Aβ) in brain is linked to neurofibrillary tangles composed of hyperphosphorylated tau in AD. Here, we identify β2-adrenergic receptor (β2AR) that mediates Aβ-induced tau pathology. In the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of 1-year-old transgenic mice with human familial mutant genes of presenilin 1 and amyloid precursor protein (PS1/APP), the phosphorylation of tau at Ser-214 Ser-262 and Thr-181, and the protein kinases including JNK, GSK3α/β, and Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II is increased significantly. Deletion of the β2AR gene in PS1/APP mice greatly decreases the phosphorylation of these proteins. Further analysis reveals that in primary PFC neurons, Aβ signals through a β2AR-PKA-JNK pathway, which is responsible for most of the phosphorylation of tau at Ser-214 and Ser-262 and a significant portion of phosphorylation at Thr-181. Aβ also induces a β2AR-dependent arrestin-ERK1/2 activity that does not participate in phosphorylation of tau. However, inhibition of the activity of MEK, an upstream enzyme of ERK1/2, partially blocks Aβ-induced tau phosphorylation at Thr-181. The density of dendritic spines and synapses is decreased in the deep layer of the PFC of 1-year-old PS1/APP mice, and the mice exhibit impairment of learning and memory in a novel object recognition paradigm. Deletion of the β2AR gene ameliorates pathological effects in these senile PS1/APP mice. The study indicates that β2AR may represent a potential therapeutic target for preventing the development of AD.