This review focuses on the discovery of activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) and the ensuing discovery of NAP (davunetide) toward clinical development with emphasis on microtubule protection. ADNP immunoreactivity was shown to occasionally decorate microtubules and ADNP silencing inhibited neurite outgrowth as measured by microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP2) labeling. ADNP knockout is lethal, while 50% reduction in ADNP (ADNP haploinsufficiency) resulted in the microtubule associated protein tau pathology coupled to cognitive dysfunction and neurodegeneration. NAP (davunetide), an eight amino acid peptide derived from ADNP partly ameliorated deficits associated with ADNP deficiency. NAP (davunetide) interacted with microtubules, protected against microtubule toxicity associated with zinc, nocodazole and oxidative stress in vitro and against tau pathology and MAP6 (stable tubuleonly polypeptide - STOP) pathology in vivo. NAP (davunetide) provided neurotrophic functions promoting neurite outgrowth as measured by increases in MAP2 immunoreactivity and synapse formation by increasing synaptophysin expression. NAP (davunetide) protection against neurodegeneration has recently been shown to extend to katanin-related microtubule disruption under conditions of tau deficiencies. In conclusion, NAP (davunetide) provided potent neuroprotection in a broad range of neurodegenerative models, protecting the neuroglial cytoskeleton in vitro and inhibiting tau pathology (tauopathy) in vivo. Based on these extensive preclinical results, davunetide (NAP) is now being evaluated in a Phase II/III study of the tauopathy, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP); (Allon Therapeutics Inc.).
Keywords: Davunetide, NAP, Drug discovery and development, activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP), neuroprotection, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson disease, schizophrenia, cognition, behavior, neurodegeneration, developmental disorders, tau, tauopathy, tubulin, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), frontotemporal dementia, microtubules