Increased phosphorylation of elongation factor 2 in Alzheimer's disease

Ginger Johnson, Jason Gotlib, Vahram Haroutunian, Linda Bierer, Angus C. Nairn, Carl Merril, William Wallace

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Elongation factor 2 (EF-2) is a phosphoprotein that mediates the translocation step of elongation during protein synthesis. We investigated its phosphorylation to characterize translational regulation of gene expression in Alzheimer's disease. EF-2 was identified on two-dimensional (2D) gels of brain homogenates by analyzing immunoblots with EF-2-specific antibody (Mr 96,000; pI 6.8). Four distinct charge variant isoforms were observed. We identified the two most acidic isoforms as being the phosphorylated forms by incorporation of radiolabeled phosphate. The phosphorylation of EF-2 in control and Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain was directly measured as the distribution of the four polypeptides on silver stained 2D gels. The ratio of the phosphorylated forms to unphosphorylated forms was elevated 45% in AD homogenates compared to controls (1.07 ± 0.18; n = 9 vs 0.73 ± 0.20; n = 6; P < 0.004) which indicated an increased phosphorylation of AD EF-2. The phosphorylation exhibited specificity to the disease in that it was observed in affected areas (cortex and hippocampus) but not in an unaffected area (thalamus) of the same brains. Because phosphorylation of EF-2 inhibits protein synthesis, the observed AD-associated phosphorylation of EF-2 is consistent with the reduced in vitro activity of polysomes isolated from AD tissues that we have previously reported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Brain Research
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 1992


  • Alzheimers disease
  • Elongation factor 2
  • Phosphoprotein
  • Phosphorylation


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