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Hydrogen sulfide is neuroprotective in Alzheimer's disease by sulfhydrating GSK3β and inhibiting Tau hyperphosphorylation

Giovinazzo D, Bursac B, Sbodio J, Nalluru S, Vignane T, Snowman A, Albacarys L, Sedlak T, Torregrossa R, Whiteman M, Filipovic M, Synda S, Paul B (2021) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA Jan 26;118(4):e2017225118 doi: 10.1073/pnas.2017225118 

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Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common cause of dementia and neurodegeneration in the elderly, is characterized by deterioration of memory and executive and motor functions. Neuropathologic hallmarks of AD include neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), paired helical filaments, and amyloid plaques. Mutations in the microtubule-associated protein Tau, a major component of the NFTs, cause its hyperphosphorylation in AD. We have shown that signaling by the gaseous molecule hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is dysregulated during aging. H2S signals via a posttranslational modification termed sulfhydration/persulfidation, which participates in diverse cellular processes. Here we show that cystathionine γ-lyase (CSE), the biosynthetic enzyme for H2S, binds wild type Tau, which enhances its catalytic activity. By contrast, CSE fails to bind Tau P301L, a mutant that is present in the 3xTg-AD mouse model of AD. We further show that CSE is depleted in 3xTg-AD mice as well as in human AD brains, and that H2S prevents hyperphosphorylation of Tau by sulfhydrating its kinase, glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β). Finally, we demonstrate that sulfhydration is diminished in AD, while administering the H2S donor sodium GYY4137 (NaGYY) to 3xTg-AD mice ameliorates motor and cognitive deficits in AD.


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