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Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Vol 2, No 2 (2010)

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Hsp70 ATPase Modulators as Therapeutics for Alzheimer’s and other Neurodegenerative Diseases

Umesh K. Jinwal, John Koren III, John C. O’Leary III, Jeffrey R. Jones, Jose F. Abisambra, Chad A. Dickey


Neurodegenerative diseases caused by abnormal accumulation of the microtubule associated protein tau (MAPT, tau) are collectively called tauopathies. The most devastating tau related disorder is Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Molecular chaperones such as heat shock proteins (Hsp) have emerged as critical regulators of tau stability. Several studies from our group and others have shown that the chaperone network can be targeted for the development of therapeutic strategies for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases. Here we will discuss a recent paper and current work from our laboratory where we have manipulated the ATPase activity of the 70-kDa heat shock protein (Hsp70) to regulate tau turnover. A high-throughput screening assay revealed several compounds that activated or inhibited Hsp70’s ATPase activity. Inhibitors dramatically and rapidly reduced tau levels, whereas activators stabilized tau, both in cells and brain tissue. Moreover, increased levels of Hsp70 improved ATPase inhibitor efficacy, suggesting that therapies aimed at inducing Hsp70 levels followed by inhibition of its ATPase activity may be a very effective strategy to treat AD. These findings demonstrate that Hsp70 ATPase activity can be targeted to modify the pathologies of AD and other tauopathies.

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