Recognition of tau epitopes by anti-neurofilament antibodies that bind to Alzheimer neurofibrillary tangles

H. Ksiezak-Reding, D. W. Dickson, P. Davies, S. H. Yen

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Eleven anti-neurofilament (anti-NF) monoclonal antibodies were studied for their reactivity with heat-stable, microtubule-associated proteins and Alzheimer neurofibrillary tangles (ANT). On immunoblots of NF proteins, the antibodies recognized epitopes that were variably sensitive to Escherichia coli alkaline phosphatase. Eight of the antibodies showed reactivity with ANT and decreased binding to electroblotted NF after phosphatase treatment. The same eight antibodies reacted with tau proteins from bovine and rat brain; binding to tau proteins was also substantially reduced by phosphatase. Of the eight antibodies that bound to animal tau proteins, five also bound to tau proteins from normal human brain. All of the antibodies that bound to animal tau proteins stained ANT in frozen tissue sections. Brief treatment of tissue sections with trypsin in most cases enhanced antibody binding to ANT. All antibodies that lacked reactivity with tau proteins failed to bind ANT. Phosphatase treatment of Alzheimer tissue sections did not change the immunoreactivity of ANT and neurites in senile plaques with ANT-reactive, anti-NF antibodies, except for two antibodies that showed decreased binding to ANT. In contrast, axonal staining was decreased or eliminated by phosphatase treatment, similar to the response of electroblotted NF and tau proteins. These results suggest that (i) staining of ANT by anti-NF antibodies may be due to cross-reaction of anti-NF with epitopes in tau proteins, (ii) the epitopes in axons, NF, and tau are sensitive to the effect of phosphatase, whereas the majority of those in ANT are not, and (iii) some of the epitopes in ANT that are shared with NF and tau proteins are not readily accessible to antibody binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3410-3414
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1987

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