Rediscovering TNAP in the brain: A major role in regulating the function and development of the cerebral cortex

Caroline Fonta, Pascal Barone, Laia Rodriguez Martinez, László Négyessy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity in the neural tissue has been described decades ago. However, only recent studies clarified the isotype, regional distribution and subcellular localization of the AP expressed in the cerebral cortex of diverse mammalian species including the human. In the primate brain the discovery that the bone AP isotype (TNAP) is expressed provided the opportunity of a deeper understanding of the role of this enzyme in neuronal functions based on the knowledge acquired by studying the role of the enzyme in hypophosphatasia, mostly in bone mineralization. TNAP exhibits widespread substrate specificity and, in the brain, it is potentially involved in the regulation of molecules which play fundamental roles in signal transmission and development. In light of these observations, the localization of TNAP in the human cerebral cortex is of high significance when considering that epilepsy is often diagnosed in hypophosphatasia. Here we overview our results on the identification of TNAP in the primate cerebral cortex: TNAP exhibits a noticeably high activity in the synapses and nodes of Ranvier, is specifically present in layer 4 of the sensory cortices and additionally in layer 5 of prefrontal, temporal and other associational areas in human. Our studies also indicate that bone AP activity depends on the level of sensory input and that its developmental time-course exhibits characteristic regional differences. The relevance of our findings regarding human cortical physiology and brain disorders are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-106
Number of pages22
JournalSub-cellular biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015



  • Cortical layer
  • Enzyme histochemistry
  • Neurotransmission
  • Node of Ranvier
  • Synaptic cleft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this