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Career Summary


After obtaining her PhD in Neuroscience in 1992 from the University Louis-Pasteur in Strasbourg, France, Dr. Estelle Sontag undertook postdoctoral training and was promoted in 2003 to the rank of Associate Professor of Pathology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, TX, a top-ranked Medical school in the USA. Since 2009, she is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Health, School of Biomedical Sciences & Pharmacy, at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

Dr. Sontag is internationally recognized in the field of protein phosphatase 2A, having made several significant contributions to the field by unveiling the role of this major enzyme in signal transduction, viral-mediated cell transformation and neurodegeneration (h-index 26; >3000 citations). Over the years, her work has provided novel fundamental insights into the role of PP2A in the regulation of growth signaling pathways (Cell, 1993; EMBO J., 1997), cell adhesion (J. Cell Biol., 2002; J Virol 2003) and cytoskeletal proteins (J. Cell Biol., 1995; Neuron, 1996; J. Neurochem 2007; J. Biol. Chem., 2012). Current research is focused more specifically on studying the regulation and role of PP2A methylation, with an emphasis on its role in tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (J Neuropath Exp Neur. 2004; J. Neurochem 2010; J. Neuroscience 2007, 2008, 2012; J. Biol. Chem., 2012, 2013; Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 2014), in collaboration with many international researchers.

Dr. Sontag is regularly invited as speaker at national and international meetings. She is also a member of international journal editorial and grant reviewing boards.



  • Doctor of Philosophy, Louis Pasteur University - Strasbourg, 27/03/1992


Research keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cell adhesion
  • Cell transformation
  • Folate metabolism
  • PP2A
  • Signal transduction

Research expertise

  • Biochemist and molecular and cell biologist with 20 years expertise in the field of protein phosphatase 2A and its role in signal transduction, cell transformation and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Continuous research funding by the NIH in the USA and the NHMRC in Australia.


  • English
  • French

Fields of Research

060199Biochemistry And Cell Biology Not Elsewhere Classified35
060699Physiology Not Elsewhere Classified15


Committee/Associations (relevant to research).

  • Member - American Society for Cell Biology
  • Member - Society for Microbiology
  • Member - Australian Neuroscience Society
  • Member - Society for Neuroscience

Editorial Board.

  • Member - Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology


Current collaborators:

  • Dr. Teodoro Bottiglieri, Baylor University Medical Center Institute of Metabolic Disease in Dallas, Texas, USA
  • Dr. Brian Wadzinski, Vanderbilt University, TN, USA.
  • Dr. Russell Nicholls, Columbia University, NY, USA
  • Drs. Sarah Commerford and Robert Hammer, UT Southwestern, Dallas, TX, USA
  • Dr. Charles L White III, UT Southwestern, Dallas, TX, USA
  • Dr. Egon Ogris, University of Vienna, Austria


Administrative expertise

2011-2012: School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy Executive Committee, University of Newcastle

2011-2012:School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy Research Committee, University of Newcastle


Teaching keywords

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Medical biochemistry
  • Neuroscience

Teaching expertise

MEDI1012 Introduction to Medical Science - Lecturer

MEDI1015 Medical Science 1 - Lecturer

MEDI2012 Medical Science 2 - Lecturer

MEDI2014 Medical Science 3 - Lecturer

MEDI3017 Chronic Diseases and Sub-Speciality Clinical Practice 1- Lecturer

MEDI3018 Chronic Diseases and Sub-Speciality Clinical Practice 2- Lecturer

PHAR6123 Human Genomics and Biomolecular Analysis for Pharmacy -Lecturer and Tutor

HUBS2209 Human Molecular Science -Course coordinator and lecturer

HUBS2207 Human Metabolic and Nutritional Biochemistry- Lecturer and tutor

HUBS3403 Neuroscience- Lecturer

HUBS3409 Projects in Biomedical Science- Review of literature projects



For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Click on a category title below to expand the list of citations for that specific category.

Chapter (1 outputs)

2008Sontag JM, Sontag E, 'PP2A: Multitasking and making decisions in cell growth', Protein Research Progress, Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, New York, United States of America 17-61 (2008) [B1]

Journal article (41 outputs)

2014Sontag J, Sontag E, 'Protein phosphatase 2A dysfunction in Alzheimer¿s disease', Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 7 1 (2014) [C1]
2014Sontag J-M, Sontag E, Tesone-Coelho C, Takemori H, Zwiller J, Dietrich J-B, 'Cocaine Regulates the Salt-Inducible Kinase (SIK1) by Inducing Protein Phosphatase-2A Expression in Rat Brain', Journal of Drug and Alcohol Research, 3 1-7 (2014) [C1]
2014Sontag J-M, Wasek B, Taleski G, Smith J, Arning E, Sontag E, Bottiglieri T, 'Altered protein phosphatase 2A methylation and Tau phosphorylation in the young and aged brain of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) deficient mice', Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 6 (2014) [C1]
2013Sontag J-M, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Sontag E, 'Leucine carboxyl methyltransferase 1 (LCMT1)-dependent methylation regulates the association of protein phosphatase 2A and Tau protein with plasma membrane microdomains in neuroblastoma cells', Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288 27396-27405 (2013) [C1]
2012Sontag J-M, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, White CLIII, Halpain S, Sontag EF, 'The protein phosphatase PP2A/B alpha binds to the microtubule-associated proteins tau and MAP2 at a motif also recognized by the kinase fyn: Implications for tauthopathies', Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287 14984-14993 (2012) [C1]
2012Bottiglieri T, Arning E, Wasek B, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Sontag J-M, Sontag EF, 'Acute administration of L-dopa induces changes in methylation metabolites, reduced protein phosphatase 2A methylation, and hyperphosphorylation of Tau protein in mouse brain', Journal of Neuroscience, 32 9173-9181 (2012) [C1]
2010Sontag J-M, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Mitterhuber M, Ogris E, Sontag EF, 'Regulation of protein phosphatase 2A methylation by LCMT1 and PME-1 plays a critical role in differentiation of neuroblastoma cells', Journal of Neurochemistry, 115 1455-1465 (2010) [C1]
2008Sontag JM, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Montgomery L, Arning E, Bottiglier T, Sontag E, 'Folate deficiency induces in vitro and mouse brain region-specific downregulation of leucine carboxyl methyltransferase-1 and protein phosphatase 2A B(alpha) subunit expression that correlate with enhanced tau phosphorylation', The Journal of Neuroscience, 28 1147-1148 (2008) [C1]
2007Sontag E, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Sontag JM, Diaz-Arrastia R, Ogris E, Dayal S, et al., 'Protein phosphatase 2A methyltransferase links homocysteine metabolism with tau and amyloid precursor protein regulation', The Journal of Neuroscience, 27 2751-2759 (2007) [C1]
2007Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Schuechner S, Sontag JM, Montgomery L, Pallas DC, Juno C, et al., 'Expression of protein phosphatase 2A mutants and silencing of the regulatory Balpha subunit induce a selective loss of acetylated and detyrosinated microtubules', Journal of Neurochemistry, 101 959-971 (2007) [C1]
2006Sontag JM, Sontag E, 'Regulation of cell adhesion by PP2A and SV40 small tumor antigen: an important link to cell transformation', Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 63 2979-2991 (2006) [C1]
2006Procaccio V, Salazar G, Ono S, Styers ML, Gearing M, Davila A, et al., 'A mutation of beta -actin that alters depolymerization dynamics is associated with autosomal dominant developmental malformations, deafness, and dystonia.', American Journal of Human Genetics, 78 947-960 (2006) [C1]
2004Sontag E, Luangpirom A, Christa H, Mudrak I, Ogris E, Speciale S, White C, 'Altered Expression Levels of the Protein Phosphatase 2A AB[alpha]C Enzyme Are Associated with Alzheimer Disease Pathology', Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, 63 287-301 (2004) [C1]
2004Sontag E, Hladik C, Montgomery L, Luangpirom A, Mudrak I, Ogris E, White C, 'Downregulation of protein phosphatase 2A carboxyl methylation and methyltransferase may contribute to Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis.', Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, 63 1080-1091 (2004) [C1]
2003Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Craig L, Machleidt T, Sontag E, 'Simian Virus 40 Small Tumor Antigen Induces Deregulation of the actin cytoskeleton and tight junctions in kidney epithelial cells', Journal of Virology, 77 2807-2818 (2003) [C1]
2003Bigio EH, Reisch JS, White CL, Satumtira S, Sontag E, Bonte FJ, 'Synapse loss may be a minor contributor to decreased regional cerebral blood flow in Alzheimer disease', Dement.Geriatr.Cogn Disord., 15 72-78 (2003) [C1]
2003Wang P-Y, Liu P, Weng J, Sontag E, Anderson RGW, 'A cholesterol-regulated PP2A/HePTP complex with dual specificty ERK1/2 phosphatase activity', The EMBO Journal, 22 2658-2667 (2003) [C1]
2002Bigio EH, Hynan LS, Sontag E, Satumtira S, White CL, 'Synapse loss is greater in presenile than senile onset Alzheimer disease: implications for the cognitive reserve hypothesis', Neuropathol.Appl.Neurobiol., 28 218-227 (2002)
2002Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Machleidt T, Ogris E, Bellotto D, White CL, Sontag E, 'Protein phosphatase 2A associates with and regulates atypical PKC and the epithelial tight junction complex', jcb, 158 967-978 (2002)
2001Sontag E, 'Protein phosphatase 2A: the Trojan Horse of cellular signaling', Cell Signal., 13 7-16 (2001)
2001Bigio EH, Vono MB, Satumtira S, Adamson J, Sontag E, Hynan LS, et al., 'Cortical synapse loss in progressive supranuclear palsy', J.Neuropathol.Exp.Neurol., 60 403-410 (2001)
2001Eidenmuller J, Fath T, Maas T, Pool M, Sontag E, Brandt R, 'Phosphorylation-mimicking glutamate clusters in the proline-rich region are sufficient to simulate the functional deficiencies of hyperphosphorylated tau protein', Biochem.J., 357 759-767 (2001)
2001Lipton AM, Cullum CM, Satumtira S, Sontag E, Hynan LS, White CL, Bigio EH, 'Contribution of asymmetric synapse loss to lateralizing clinical deficits in frontotemporal dementias', Arch.Neurol., 58 1233-1239 (2001)
2000Eidenmuller J, Fath T, Hellwig A, Reed J, Sontag E, Brandt R, 'Structural and Functional Implications of Tau Hyperphosphorylation: Information from Phosphorylation-Mimicking Mutated Tau Proteins', Biochemistry, 39 13166-13175 (2000)
2000Garcia A, Cereghini S, Sontag E, 'Protein phosphatase 2A and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase regulate the activity of Sp1-responsive promoters', JBC, 275 9385-9389 (2000)
2000Garcia A, Cayla X, Sontag E, 'Protein phosphatase 2A: a definite player in viral and parasitic regulation', Microbes.Infect., 2 401-407 (2000)
2000Goedert M, Satumtira S, Jakes R, Smith MJ, Kamibayashi C, White CL, Sontag E, 'Reduced binding of protein phosphatase 2A to tau protein with frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 mutations', J.Neurochem., 75 2155-2162 (2000)
1999Sontag E, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Lee G, Brandt R, Kamibayashi C, Kuret J, et al., 'Molecular Interactions among Protein Phosphatase 2A, Tau, and Microtubules. Implications for the regulation of tau phosphorylation and the development of tauopathies', JBC, 274 25490-25498 (1999)
1997Sontag E, Sontag JM, Garcia A, 'Protein phosphatase 2A is a critical regulator of protein kinase C zeta signaling targeted by SV40 small t to promote cell growth and NF-kappaB activation', embo, 16 5662-5671 (1997)
1996Sontag E, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Lee G, Bloom GS, Mumby MC, 'Regulation of the phosphorylation state and microtubule-binding activity of Tau by protein phosphatase 2A', Neuron, 17 1201-1207 (1996)
1995Sontag E, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Bloom GS, Mumby MC, 'A novel pool of protein phosphatase 2A is associated with microtubules and is regulated during the cell cycle.', jcb, 128 1131-1144 (1995)
1994Frost JA, Alberts AS, Sontag E, Guan K, Mumby MC, Feramisco JR, 'Simian virus 40 small t antigen cooperates with mitogen-activated kinases to stimulate AP-1 activity.', Mol.Cell Biol., 14 6244-6252 (1994)
1993Helle KB, Marley PD, Angeletti RH, Aunis D, Galindo E, Small DH, Livett BG, 'Chromogranin A: secretion of processed products from the stimulated retrogradely perfused bovine adrenal gland', J.Neuroendocrinol., 5 413-420 (1993)
1993Cetin Y, Aunis D, Bader MF, Galindo E, Jorns A, Bargsten G, Grube D, 'Chromostatin, a chromogranin A-derived bioactive peptide, is present in human pancreatic insulin (beta) cells', Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.U.S.A, 90 2360-2364 (1993)
1993Aardal S, Galindo E, Aunis D, Helle KB, 'Human chromostatin inhibits endothelin-1-induced contractures in human blood vessels', Regul.Pept., 47 25-32 (1993)
1993Sontag E, Fedorov S, Kamibayashi C, Robbins D, Cobb M, Mumby M, 'The interaction of SV40 small tumor antigen with protein phosphatase 2A stimulates the map kinase pathway and induces cell proliferation', Cell, 75 887-897 (1993)
1992Galindo E, Mendez M, Calvo S, Gonzalez-Garcia C, Cena V, Hubert P, et al., 'Chromostatin receptors control calcium channel activity in adrenal chromaffin cells', J.Biol.Chem., 267 407-412 (1992)
1992Galindo E, Zwiller J, Bader MF, Aunis D, 'Chromostatin inhibits catecholamine secretion in adrenal chromaffin cells by activating a protein phosphatase', Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.U.S.A, 89 7398-7402 (1992)
1991Galindo E, Bader MF, Aunis D, 'Regulation of chromogranin a and chromogranin B (secretogranin I) synthesis in bovine cultured chromaffin cells', J.Neuroendocrinol., 3 669-677 (1991)
1991Anouar Y, Monti M, Galindo E, Benie T, Aunis D, Duval J, 'Regulatory Effects of Estrogens on the Pituitary Content of Secretogranin II and Chromogranin A', J.Neuroendocrinol., 3 233-235 (1991)
1991Galindo E, Rill A, Bader MF, Aunis D, 'Chromostatin, a 20-amino acid peptide derived from chromogranin A, inhibits chromaffin cell secretion', Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.U.S.A, 88 1426-1430 (1991)
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Conference (22 outputs)

2014Sontag JM, Wasek B, Taleski T, Smith J, Arning E, Sontag E, Bottiglieri T, 'Methylation of protein phosphatase 2A and phosphorylation of Tau protein in brain tissue from methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficient mice', -, Steamboat Springs, Colorado (2014) [E3]
2014Sontag E, 'Alterations in PP2A and tau in mouse models of MTHFR deficiency', -, UNSW, Sydney, Australia (2014) [E3]
2014Sontag EFG, Hoffman A, Sontag JM, Bottiglieri T, 'Signal transduction by PP2A: Regulating the regulator.', -, Canberra (2014)
2013Sontag JM, Arning E, Numbhakdi-Craig V, Wasek B, Bottiglieri T, Sontag E, 'Regulation of PP2A methylation by genetic/drug/dietary interactions ¿ Implication for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders', -, Melbourne, Australia (2013) [E3]
2013Sontag E, Sontag JM, Bottiglieri T, Arancio O, Nichollls R, 'Significance of protein phosphatase 2A in Alzheimer¿s disease', 7th Alzheimer's & Parkinson's Disease Symposium, Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), The University of Queensland, Australia (2013) [E3]
2013Ahmed AF, De Bock CE, Sontag E, Hondermarck H, Thorne RF, 'The functional role of Fat1 cadherin in the differentiation and proliferation of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells', -, Pokolbin, NSW, Australia (2013) [E3]
2013Sontag EFG, 'Regional Effects of Acute L-DOPA Administration on Monoamines, Gamma-aminobutyric Acid and Acetylcholine Levels in the Mouse Brain', -, Florence, Italy (2013) [E3]
2013Nicholls RE, Sontag JM, Zhang H, Staniszewski A, Woodruff CM, Yim M, et al., 'The role of PP2A methylation in beta-amyloid sensitivity and resistance', The 11th International Conference on Alzheimer¿s and Parkinson¿s Diseases, Florence, Italy (2013) [E3]
2013Ahmed A, De Bock C, Zouikr I, Sontag E, Hondermarck H, Thorne R, 'FAT1 cadherin engages the hippo signalling pathway to mediate effects during SH-SY5Y cell differentiation', -, Perth, WA (2013)
2012Nicholls RE, Sontag J-M, Zhang H, Staniszewski A, Woodruff CM, Yim M, et al., 'The role of PP2A methylation in beta-amyliod sensitivity and resistance', Neuroscience 2012. Abstracts, New Orleans (2012) [E3]
2012Sontag EF, Sontag J-M, 'New insights into the regulation and role of PP2A methylation in Alzheimer disease', 2012 FASEB Science Research Conferences. Protein Phosphates, Snowmass, CO (2012) [E3]
2012Arning E, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Wasek B, Bottiglieri T, Sontag EF, Sontag J-M, 'Regulation of PP2A methylation by genetic/drug/dietary interactions - Implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders', 2012 FASEB Science Research Conferences. Protein Phosphates, Snowmass, CO (2012) [E3]
2012Sontag J-M, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Bottiglieri T, Sontag EF, 'Regulation of PP2A methylation - Implications for neurogenerative disorders', Phosphates in Human Disease. Meeting Programme & Abstract Book, Melbourne, Vic (2012) [E3]
2011Arning E, Wasek B, Williams M, Sontag EF, Bottiglieri T, 'L-dopa treatment reduces plasma concentrations of pyridoxal phosphate (vitamin b6) and decreases brain serotonin metabolism in the mouse: Implications for vitamin b6 dependent enzymes', Abstracts. The 10th International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases, Barcelona, Spain (2011) [E3]
2011Sontag J-M, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Sontag EF, 'Protein phosphatase 2A methylation plays a critical role in neurite outgrowth', Oral abstracts. Australian Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting, Auckland, NZ (2011) [E3]
2011Wasek B, Erland A, Sontag J-M, Sontag EF, Bottiglieri T, 'The effect of microwave irradiation on methylation metabolites in folate deficient mouse brain tissue', Abstracts. 8th International Conference on Homocysteine Metabolism, Lisboa, Portugal (2011) [E3]
2011Sontag J-M, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Sontag EF, 'A novel role for protein phosphatase 2A methylation in neuritogenesis', The 11th Hunter Meeting, Hunter Valley, NSW (2011) [E3]
2010Sontag EF, Sontag J-M, Arning E, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Wasek B, Bottiglieri T, 'Role of PP2A methylation in neurodegeneration', International Symposium on Protein Phosphorylation in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Abstracts, Valencia, Spain (2010) [E3]
2010Sontag J-M, Nunbhakdi-Craig V, Sontag EF, 'Protein phosphatase 2A methylation plays a critical role in neurite outgrowth', Neuroscience 2010: Final Program, San Diego, CA (2010) [E3]
2009Sontag EF, 'Role of PP2A methylation pathways in tau regulation', Alzheimer's and Dementia, Vienna, Austria (2009) [E3]
2009Bottiglieri T, Arning E, Wasek B, Sontag J-M, Sontag EF, 'L-dopa induces changes in methylation metabolites, PP2A demethylation and hyper-phosphorylation of Tau protein in mouse brain', 7th International Conference on Homocysteine Metabolism: Abstract Book, Prague, Czech Republic (2009) [E3]
2008Mao QW, Hatanpaa KJ, Sontag E, Hladik CL, Xia HB, White CL, 'Establishment of a stable progranulin deficient cell line: a model of frontotemporal dementia with ubiquitin-positive inclusions', Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, San Diego, California, USA (2008) [E3]
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Grants and Funding


Number of grants7
Total funding$537,603

- Indicates that the researcher may be seeking students for this project.

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

2015 (1 grants)

International Society for Neurochemistry - Biennial meeting and Advanced School, Fizroy Island and Cairns AUS, 19-27 August 2015$700
Funding Body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine

Project Team
Associate Professor Estelle Sontag
Travel GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2014 (2 grants)

Can dietary folate supplementation slow down Alzheimer’s Disease?$20,000
Funding Body: Hunter Medical Research Institute

Project Team
Doctor Jean-Marie Sontag, Associate Professor Estelle Sontag
Project GrantInvestigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

ComBio2014, Canberra Australia, 28 September - 2 October 2014$1,340
Funding Body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine

Project Team
Associate Professor Estelle Sontag
Travel GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2013 (2 grants)

Leica TP 1020 Automatic Tissue Processor for histology applications$35,000
Funding Body: NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)

Ultra-Low Temperature Cryogenic Freezer$24,596
Funding Body: NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)

2012 (1 grants)

2012 FASEB Science Research Conferences - Protein phosphatases, Snowmass Colorado, 15 - 20 July 2012$1,500
Funding Body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine

Project Team
Associate Professor Estelle Sontag
Travel GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

2011 (1 grants)

Protein Phosphatase 2A methylation: Regulation and functional significance for tauopathies$454,467
Funding Body: NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council)

Project Team
Associate Professor Estelle Sontag, Doctor Jean-Marie Sontag
Project GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish

Research Supervision

Number of current supervisions2
Total current UoN Masters EFTSL0.8
Total current UoN PhD EFTSL0.25

For supervisions undertaken at an institution other that the University of Newcastle, the institution name is listed below the program name.

Current Supervision

ProgramSupervisor TypeResearch Title
20152017M Philosophy (Medical Biochem)Principal SupervisorThe Protein Phosphatase 2A in Alzheimer's Disease Pathogenesis
20112015PhD (Medical Biochemistry)Co-SupervisorRole of FAT1 Cadherin in Neuronal Differentiation

Associate Professor Estelle Sontag

Work Phone(02) 4921 6239
Fax(02) 4921 7903
PositionAssociate Professor
(02) 4921 5018
School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
Faculty of Health and Medicine
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Focus AreaMedical Biochemistry
Life Sciences,
University Drive
Callaghan NSW 2308