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Amyloid beta (Aβ or Abeta) denotes peptides of 36–43 amino acids that are crucially involved in Alzheimer's disease as the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer patients. The peptides derive from the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which is cleaved by beta secretase and gamma secretase to yield Aβ. Aβ molecules can aggregate to form flexible soluble oligomers which may exist in several forms. It is now believed that certain misfolded oligomers (known as "seeds") can induce other Aβ molecules to also take the misfolded oligomeric form, leading to a chain reaction akin to a prion infection. The oligomers are toxic to nerve cells. The other protein implicated in Alzheimer's disease, tau protein, also forms such prion-like misfolded oligomers, and there is some evidence that misfolded Aβ can induce tau to misfold. A recent study suggested that APP and its amyloid potential is of ancient origins, dating as far back as early deuterostomes.