[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lewy bodies and neurites are the pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease. These structures are composed of fibrillized and ubiquitinated alpha-synuclein suggesting that impaired protein clearance is an important event in aggregate formation. The A30P mutation is known for its fast oligomerization, but slow fibrillization rate. Despite its toxicity to neurons, mechanisms involved in either clearance or conversion of A30P alpha-synuclein from its soluble state into insoluble fibrils and their effects in vivo are poorly understood. Synphilin-1 is present in Lewy bodies, interacting with alpha-synuclein in vivo and in vitro and promotes its sequestration into aggresomes, which are thought to act as cytoprotective agents facilitating protein degradation. We therefore crossed animals overexpressing A30P alpha-synuclein with synphilin-1 transgenic mice to analyze its impact on aggregation, protein clearance and phenotype progression. We observed that co-expression of synphilin-1 mildly delayed the motor phenotype caused by A30P alpha-synuclein. Additionally, the presence of N- and C-terminal truncated alpha-synuclein species and fibrils were strongly reduced in double-transgenic mice when compared to single-transgenic A30P mice. Insolubility of mutant A30P and formation of aggresomes was still detectable in aged double-transgenic mice, paralleled by an increase of ubiquitinated proteins and high autophagic activity. Hence, this study supports the notion that co-expression of synphilin-1 promotes formation of autophagic-susceptible aggresomes and consecutively the degradation of human A30P alpha-synuclein.Notably, although synphilin-1 overexpression significantly reduced formation of fibrils and astrogliosis in aged animals, a similar phenotype is present in single- and double-transgenic mice suggesting additional neurotoxic processes in disease progression.
Human Molecular Genetics 09/2013; · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activating transcription factor 5 (ATF5) is a basic-leucine-zipper transcription factor of the ATF/CREB family. The Atf5 gene generates two transcripts, Atf5α and Atf5β, of which Atf5α is known to be selectively translated upon endoplasmic reticulum stress response in non-neuronal cells. ATF5 is highly expressed in the developing brain where it modulates proliferation of neural progenitor cells. These cells show a high level of ATF5 that has to decrease to allow them to differentiate into mature neurons or glial cells. This has led to the extended notion that differentiated neural cells do not express ATF5 unless they undergo tumourigenic transformation. However, no systematic analysis of the distribution of ATF5 in adult brain or of its potential role in neuronal endoplasmic reticulum stress response has been reported. By immunostaining here we confirm highest ATF5 levels in neuroprogenitor cells of the embryonic and adult subventricular zone but also found ATF5 in a large variety of neurons in adult mouse brain. By combining Atf5 in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for the neuronal marker NeuN we further confirmed Atf5 messenger RNA in adult mouse neurons. Quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction demonstrated that Atf5α is the most abundant transcript in adult mouse encephalon and injection of the endoplasmic reticulum stress inducer tunicamycin into adult mouse brain increased neuronal ATF5 levels. Accordingly, ATF5 levels increased in hippocampal neurons of a mouse model of status epilepticus triggered by intra-amygdala injection of kainic acid, which leads to abnormal hippocampal neuronal activity and endoplasmic reticulum stress. Interestingly, ATF5 upregulation occurred mainly in hippocampal neuronal fields that do not undergo apoptosis in this status epilepticus model such as CA1 and dentate gyrus, thus suggesting a neuroprotective role. This was confirmed in a primary neuronal culture model in which ATF5 overexpression resulted in decreased endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced apoptosis and the opposite result was achieved by Atf5 RNA interference. Furthermore, in vivo administration of the eIF2α phosphatase inhibitor salubrinal resulted in increased ATF5 hippocampal levels and attenuated status epilepticus-induced neuronal death in the vulnerable CA3 subfield. In good agreement with the neuroprotective effect of increased ATF5, we found that apoptosis-resistant epileptogenic foci from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy also showed increased levels of ATF5. Thus, our results demonstrate that adult neurons express ATF5 and that they increase its levels upon endoplasmic reticulum stress as a pro-survival mechanism, thus opening a new field for neuroprotective strategies focused on ATF5 modulation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hippocampal sclerosis is a frequent pathological finding in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and can be caused by prolonged single or repeated brief seizures. Both DNA damage and endoplasmic reticulum stress have been implicated as underlying molecular mechanisms in seizure-induced brain injury. The CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein homologous protein (CHOP) is a transcriptional regulator induced downstream of DNA damage and endoplasmic reticulum stress, which can promote or inhibit apoptosis according to context. Recent work has proposed inhibition of CHOP as a suitable neuroprotective strategy. Here, we show that transcript and protein levels of CHOP increase in surviving subfields of the hippocampus after prolonged seizures (status epilepticus) in mouse models. CHOP was also elevated in the hippocampus from epileptic mice and patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy. The hippocampus of CHOP-deficient mice was much more vulnerable to damage in mouse models of status epilepticus. Moreover, compared with wild-type animals, CHOP-deficient mice subject to status epilepticus developed more spontaneous seizures, displayed protracted hippocampal neurodegeneration and a deficit in a hippocampus-dependent object-place recognition task. The absence of CHOP was associated with a supra-maximal induction of p53 after status epilepticus, and inhibition of p53 abolished the cell death-promoting consequences of CHOP deficiency. The protective effect of CHOP could be partly explained by activating transcription of murine double minute 2 that targets p53 for degradation. These data demonstrate that CHOP is required for neuronal survival after seizures and caution against inhibition of CHOP as a neuroprotective strategy where excitotoxicity is an underlying pathomechanism.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) inhibitors have been postulated as useful therapeutic tools for the treatment of chronic neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. Nevertheless the clinical use of these inhibitors has been limited by their common side effects. Lithium, a non-selective GSK-3 inhibitor has been classically administered to treat bipolar patients but its prescription is decreasing due to its frequent side effects such as hand tremor. This toxicity seems to be higher in the elderly and a clinical trial with lithium for Alzheimer's disease was stopped due to high rate of discontinuation. We have previously described a mechanism for the adverse effects of chronic lithium that involves neuronal apoptosis via Fas signaling. As lithium inhibits many other enzymatic activities such as inositol monophosphatase and histone deacetylase, here we aim to genetically test whether GSK-3 inhibition induces those adverse effects through Fas receptor. For this purpose we took advantage of a transgenic mouse line with decreased GSK-3 activity (Tet/DN-GSK-3 mice) that shows increased rate of neuronal apoptosis as well as motor deficits and brought it to a Fas deficient background (lpr mice). We found that apoptosis induced by GSK-3 inhibition was absent in Fas deficient background. Interestingly, motor deficits were also absent in Fas deficient Tet/DN-GSK-3 mice. These results demonstrate that Fas signaling contributes to the neurological toxicity of GSK-3 inhibition and suggest that a combination of GSK-3 inhibitors with blockers of Fas signaling could help to improve the application of GSK-3 inhibitors to clinics.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(8):e70952. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clathrin-mediated endocytosis plays an important role in the maintenance of neuronal integrity in the synaptic terminals. Here we studied the effect of anomalous polyglutamine expansion in huntingtin on the interaction of coat proteins with membranes, in areas of mouse brain or in cultured striatal cells. We observed that this anomaly induces a redistribution of AP-2, but not other coat proteins, from the membrane to the cytosol in the striatum, and in the cultured striatal cells. It was also noted that huntingtin associates with AP-2, and that this association decreases due to the mutation in huntingtin. This decreased receptor-mediated endocytosis, measured by the internalization of transferrin in the mutated cells. It was also confirmed that huntingtin mutation made the cells more vulnerable to the action of quinolinic acid, with an increasing degradation of the AP-2 alpha subunits. On the basis of these results, we conclude that abnormal polyglutamine expansion in huntingtin affects clathrin-mediated endocytosis, and may be one of the pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegeneration.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The lack or excess of the protein tau can be deleterious for neurons. The absence of tau can result in retarded neurogenesis and neuronal differentiation, although adult mice deficient in tau are viable, probably because of the compensation of the loss of tau by other MAPs (microtubule-associated proteins). On the contrary, the overexpression of tau can be toxic for the cell. One way to reduce intracellular tau levels can be achieved by its secretion through microvesicles to the extracellular space. Furthermore, tau can be found in the extracellular space because of the neuronal cell death occurring in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The presence of toxic extracellular tau could be the mechanism for the spreading of tau pathology in these neurodegenerative disorders.
Biochemical Society Transactions 08/2012; 40(4):653-5. · 2.59 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a key player in learning and memory processes. However, little is known about brain area-specific functions of this neurotrophin. Here we investigated whether BDNF could differently affect motor neocortical and hippocampal-related cognitive and plastic morphologic changes in young (12-week-old) and middle-aged (30-week-old) BDNF heterozygous (BDNF(+/-)) and wild type (wt) mice. We found that at 30weeks of age, BDNF(+/-) mice showed impaired performance in accelerating rotarod and grasping tests while preserved spatial learning in a T-maze and recognition memory in an object recognition task compared with wt mice suggesting a specific neocortical dysfunction. Accordingly, a significant reduction of synaptic markers (PSD-95 and GluR1) and corresponding puncta was observed in motor neocortex but not in hippocampus of BDNF(+/-) mice. Interestingly, 30-week-old BDNF(+/-) mice displayed increased TrkB levels in the hippocampus but not in the motor neocortex, which suggests specific hippocampal compensatory mechanisms as a consequence of BDNF decrease. In conclusion, our data indicates that BDNF could differentially regulate the neuronal micro-structures and cognition in a region-specific and in an age-dependent manner.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) is a ubiquitously expressed serine/threonine kinase that plays a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). GSK3 phosphorylates tau in most serine and threonine residues hyperphosphorylated in paired helical filaments, and GSK3 activity contributes both to amyloid-β production and amyloid-β-mediated neuronal death. Thus, mice generated in our laboratory with conditional overexpression of GSK3 in forebrain neurons (Tet/GSK3β mice) recapitulate aspects of AD neuropathology such as tau hyperphosphorylation, apoptotic neuronal death, and reactive astrocytosis, as well as spatial learning deficit. In this review, we describe recent contributions of our group showing that transgene shutdown in that animal model leads to normal GSK3 activity, normal phospho-tau levels, diminished neuronal death, and suppression of the cognitive deficit, thus further supporting the potential of GSK3 inhibitors for AD therapeutics. In addition, we have combined transgenic mice overexpressing the enzyme GSK3β with transgenic mice expressing tau with a triple FTDP-17 mutation that develop prefibrillar tau-aggregates. Our data suggest that progression of the tauopathy can be prevented by administration of lithium when the first signs of neuropathology appear. Further, it is possible to partially reverse tau pathology in advanced stages of the disease, although the presence of already assembled neurofibrillary tangle-like structures cannot be reversed.
Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 06/2012; · 4.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington and Parkinson diseases (HD and PD) are two major neurodegenerative disorders pathologically characterized by the accumulation of the aggregate-prone proteins mutant huntingtin (in HD) and α-synuclein (in PD). Mutant huntingtin is an autophagy substrate and autophagy modulators affect HD pathology both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, α-synuclein levels are able to modulate autophagy: α-synuclein overexpression inhibits autophagy, whereas downregulation promotes autophagy. Here, we review our recent studies showing that α-synuclein levels modulate mutant huntingtin toxicity in mouse models. This phenotypic modification is accompanied by the in vivo modulation of autophagosome numbers in mouse brains from both control and HD mice expressing different levels of α-synuclein.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is the most common of nine inherited neurological disorders caused by expanded polyglutamine (polyQ) sequences which confer propensity to self-aggregate and toxicity to their corresponding mutant proteins. It has been postulated that polyQ expression compromises the folding capacity of the cell which might affect other misfolding-prone proteins. α-Synuclein (α-syn) is a small neural-specific protein with propensity to self-aggregate that forms Parkinson's disease (PD) Lewy bodies. Point mutations in α-syn that favor self-aggregation or α-syn gene duplications lead to familial PD, thus indicating that increased α-syn aggregation or levels are sufficient to induce neurodegeneration. Since polyQ inclusions in HD and other polyQ disorders are immunopositive for α-syn, we speculated that α-syn might be recruited as an additional mediator of polyQ toxicity. Here, we confirm in HD postmortem brains and in the R6/1 mouse model of HD the accumulation of α-syn in polyQ inclusions. By isolating the characteristic filaments formed by aggregation-prone proteins, we found that N-terminal mutant huntingtin (N-mutHtt) and α-syn form independent filamentous microaggregates in R6/1 mouse brain as well as in the inducible HD94 mouse model and that N-mutHtt expression increases the load of α-syn filaments. Accordingly, α-syn knockout results in a diminished number of N-mutHtt inclusions in transfected neurons and also in vivo in the brain of HD mice. Finally, α-syn knockout attenuates body weight loss and early motor phenotype of HD mice. This study therefore demonstrates that α-syn is a modifier of polyQ toxicity in vivo and raises the possibility that potential PD-related therapies aimed to counteract α-syn toxicity might help to slow HD.
Human Molecular Genetics 11/2011; 21(3):495-510. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: β-Amyloid (Aβ) peptide production from amyloid precursor protein (APP) is essential in the formation of the β-amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. However, the extracellular signals that maintain the balance between nonpathogenic and pathologic forms of APP processing, mediated by α-secretase and β-secretase respectively, remain poorly understood. In the present work, we describe regulation of the processing of APP via the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) receptor P2X7R. In 2 different cellular lines, the inhibition of either native or overexpressed P2X7R increased α-secretase activity through inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3). In vivo inhibition of the P2X7R in J20 mice, transgenic for mutant human APP, induced a significant decrease in the number of hippocampal amyloid plaques. This reduction correlated with a decrease in glycogen synthase kinase 3 activity in J20 mice, increasing the proteolytic processing of APP through an increase in α-secretase activity. The in vivo findings presented here demonstrate for the first time the therapeutic potential of P2X7R antagonism in the treatment of familiar Alzheimer's disease (FAD).
Neurobiology of aging 10/2011; 33(8):1816-28. · 5.94 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Overexpression of GSK3β in transgenic mice induces learning deficits and some features associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD), including dentate gyrus (DG) atrophy. Here, we assessed whether these mice also recapitulate DG atrophy as well as impaired neurogenesis reported in AD. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that there were fewer and more disorganized neurogenic niches in these animals, coupled with an increase in the proportion of immature neurons. Indeed, the maturation of granule cells is delayed as witnessed by the alterations to the length and patterning of their dendritic trees and to the mossy fiber terminals. Together with an increase in neuronal death, these phenomena lead to a marked decrease in the number and disorganization of granule cells of the DG. Our results suggest that GSK3β overexpression perturbs proliferation and maturation, resulting in the loss of immature neurons. In turn, the activation of microglia is stimulated in conjunction with a decrease in the birth of new functional neurons, leading to the deterioration of this structure. These data support the idea that by inducing degeneration of the DG, GSK3β could be involved in the pathogenesis of AD.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Striatal-enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase (STEP) is highly expressed in striatal projection neurons, the neuronal population most affected in Huntington's disease. Here, we examined STEP expression and phosphorylation, which regulates its activity, in N-terminal exon-1 and full-length mutant huntingtin mouse models. R6/1 mice displayed reduced STEP protein levels in the striatum and cortex, whereas its phosphorylation was increased in the striatum, cortex, and hippocampus. The early increase in striatal STEP phosphorylation levels correlated with a deregulation of the protein kinase A pathway, and decreased calcineurin activity at later stages further contributes to an enhancement of STEP phosphorylation and inactivation. Accordingly, we detected an accumulation of phosphorylated ERK2 and p38, two targets of STEP, in R6/1 mice striatum at advanced stages of the disease. Activation of STEP participates in excitotoxic-induced cell death. Because Huntington's disease mouse models develop resistance to excitotoxicity, we analyzed whether decreased STEP activity was involved in this process. After intrastriatal quinolinic acid (QUIN) injection, we detected higher phosphorylated STEP levels in R6/1 than in wild-type mice, suggesting that STEP inactivation could mediate neuroprotection in R6/1 striatum. In agreement, intrastriatal injection of TAT-STEP increased QUIN-induced cell death. R6/2, Tet/HD94, and Hdh(Q7/Q111) mice striatum also displayed decreased STEP protein and increased phosphorylation levels. In Tet/HD94 mice striatum, mutant huntingtin transgene shutdown reestablished STEP expression. In conclusion, the STEP pathway is severely downregulated in the presence of mutant huntingtin and may participate in compensatory mechanisms activated by striatal neurons that lead to resistance to excitotoxicity.
Journal of Neuroscience 06/2011; 31(22):8150-62. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Huntington's disease (HD), the expansion of polyglutamine (polyQ) repeats at the N terminus of the ubiquitous protein huntingtin (htt) leads to neurodegeneration in specific brain areas. Neurons degenerating in HD develop synaptic dysfunctions. However, it is unknown whether mutant htt impacts synaptic function in general. To investigate that, we have focused on the nerve terminals of motor neurons that typically do not degenerate in HD. Here, we have studied synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction of transgenic mice expressing a mutant form of htt (R6/1 mice). We have found that the size and frequency of miniature endplate potentials are similar in R6/1 and control mice. In contrast, the amplitude of evoked endplate potentials in R6/1 mice is increased compared to controls. Consistent with a presynaptic increase of release probability, synaptic depression under high-frequency stimulation is higher in R6/1 mice. In addition, no changes were detected in the size and dynamics of the recycling synaptic vesicle pool. Moreover, we have found increased amounts of the synaptic vesicle proteins synaptobrevin 1,2/VAMP 1,2 and cysteine string protein-α, and the SNARE protein SNAP-25, concomitant with normal levels of other synaptic vesicle markers. Our results reveal that the transgenic expression of a mutant form of htt leads to an unexpected gain of synaptic function. That phenotype is likely not secondary to neurodegeneration and might be due to a primary deregulation in synaptic protein levels. Our findings could be relevant to understand synaptic toxic effects of proteins with abnormal polyQ repeats.
Journal of Neuroscience 01/2011; 31(3):1106-13. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The endoplasmic reticulum-stress response is induced in several neurodegenerative diseases and in cellular models of Huntington's disease. However, here we report that the processing of ATF6α to its active nuclear form, one of the three branches of endoplasmic reticulum-stress activation, is impaired in both animal models and Huntington's disease patients. ATF6α has been reported to be essential for the survival of dormant tumour cells that, like neurons, are arrested in the G0-G1 phase of the cell cycle. This effect is mediated by the small GTPase Rheb (Ras-homologue enriched in brain). Our results suggest that the ATF6α/Rheb pathway is altered in Huntington's disease as the decrease in ATF6α processing is accompanied by a decrease in the accumulation of Rheb. These alterations correlate with the aberrant accumulation of cell cycle re-entry markers in post-mitotic neurons which is accompanied by death of a subset of neurons.
Neurobiology of Disease 01/2011; 41(1):23-32. · 5.62 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increased GSK-3 activity is believed to contribute to the etiology of chronic disorders like Alzheimer's disease (AD), schizophrenia, diabetes, and some types of cancer, thus supporting therapeutic potential of GSK-3 inhibitors. Numerous mouse models with modified GSK-3 have been generated in order to study the physiology of GSK-3, its implication in diverse pathologies and the potential effect of GSK-3 inhibitors. In this review we have focused on the relevance of these mouse models for the study of the role of GSK-3 in apoptosis. GSK-3 is involved in two apoptotic pathways, intrinsic and extrinsic pathways, and plays opposite roles depending on the apoptotic signaling process that is activated. It promotes cell death when acting through intrinsic pathway and plays an anti-apoptotic role if the extrinsic pathway is occurring. It is important to dissect this duality since, among the diseases in which GSK-3 is involved, excessive cell death is crucial in some illnesses like neurodegenerative diseases, while a deficient apoptosis is occurring in others such as cancer or autoimmune diseases. The clinical application of a classical GSK-3 inhibitor, lithium, is limited by its toxic consequences, including motor side effects. Recently, the mechanism leading to activation of apoptosis following chronic lithium administration has been described. Understanding this mechanism could help to minimize side effects and to improve application of GSK-3 inhibitors to the treatment of AD and to extend the application to other diseases.
Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 01/2011; 4:45.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endocannabinoids act as neuromodulatory and neuroprotective cues by engaging type 1 cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are highly abundant in the basal ganglia and play a pivotal role in the control of motor behaviour. An early downregulation of type 1 cannabinoid receptors has been documented in the basal ganglia of patients with Huntington's disease and animal models. However, the pathophysiological impact of this loss of receptors in Huntington's disease is as yet unknown. Here, we generated a double-mutant mouse model that expresses human mutant huntingtin exon 1 in a type 1 cannabinoid receptor-null background, and found that receptor deletion aggravates the symptoms, neuropathology and molecular pathology of the disease. Moreover, pharmacological administration of the cannabinoid Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol to mice expressing human mutant huntingtin exon 1 exerted a therapeutic effect and ameliorated those parameters. Experiments conducted in striatal cells show that the mutant huntingtin-dependent downregulation of the receptors involves the control of the type 1 cannabinoid receptor gene promoter by repressor element 1 silencing transcription factor and sensitizes cells to excitotoxic damage. We also provide in vitro and in vivo evidence that supports type 1 cannabinoid receptor control of striatal brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression and the decrease in brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels concomitant with type 1 cannabinoid receptor loss, which may contribute significantly to striatal damage in Huntington's disease. Altogether, these results support the notion that downregulation of type 1 cannabinoid receptors is a key pathogenic event in Huntington's disease, and suggest that activation of these receptors in patients with Huntington's disease may attenuate disease progression.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Huntington disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that initially affects the striatum and progressively the cortex. Oxidative stress in HD has been described as important to disease progression. In this study, protein carbonylation, used as a marker of protein oxidation, was analyzed in human brain striatum. A comparison of HD samples to matched controls identified 13 carbonylated proteins, including enzymes involved in the glycolytic pathway and mitochondrial proteins related to ATP production. Oxidation of the mitochondrial enzymes resulted in decreased catalytic activity, in good agreement with the energy deficiency observed in HD. We also found carbonylation of pyridoxal kinase and antiquitin 1, both involved in the metabolism of pyridoxal 5-phosphate, the active form of vitamin B6. The Tet/HD94 conditional mouse model allowed us to demonstrate that increased carbonylation in striatum is dependent on mutant huntingtin expression. As in humans, pyridoxal kinase showed decreased levels and was highly carbonylated in the gene-on mice; these modifications were reverted in the gene-off mice. We hypothesize that both pyridoxal kinase and antiquitin 1 oxidation could result in decreased pyridoxal 5-phosphate availability necessary as a cofactor in transaminations, synthesis of glutathione, and synthesis of GABA and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that play a key role in HD pathology.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The MAP (microtubule-associated protein) tau binds to tubulin, the main component of MTs (microtubules), which results in the stabilization of MT polymers. Tau binds to the C-terminal of tubulin, like other MAPs (including motor proteins such as kinesin) and it therefore may compete with these proteins for the same binding site in the tubulin molecule. In pathological conditions, tau is the main component of aberrant protein aggregates found in neurodegenerative disorders known as tauopathies where tau is present in its hyperphosphorylated form. GSK3 (glycogen synthase kinase 3, also known as tau kinase I) has been described as one of the main kinases involved in tau modifications. We have analysed the role of phospho-tau as a neurotoxic agent. We have analysed a transgenic mouse model which overexpresses GSK3beta. In this transgenic mouse, a clear degeneration of the dentate gyrus, which increases with age, was found. In a double transgenic mouse, which overexpresses GSK3 and tau at the same time, dentate gyrus degeneration was dramatically increased. This result may suggest that phospho-tau may be toxic inside neurons of the dentate gyrus. Once neuronal degeneration takes place, intracellular tau is secreted to the extracellular space. The present review discusses the toxicity of this extracellular tau for surrounding neurons.
Biochemical Society Transactions 08/2010; 38(4):977-80. · 2.59 Impact Factor