News & CommentAlzheimer's Research

The Alzheimer's Gene Puzzle

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Science  15 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5366, pp. 1002
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5366.1002

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After discovering the connection between the gene for apolipoprotein E (APOE) and Alzheimer's disease, Allen Roses of Duke University and a colleague proposed that "normal" APOE's function is to protect the brain. They argued that the most common of APOE's three genetic forms--the E3 allele--produces a protein that binds to another protein called tau, but the E4 allele codes for a protein that doesn't bind well with tau, causing neurons to develop the tangled fibrils found in Alzheimer's brains. Very few scientists have been persuaded, however.