Feb 24, 2018

Tau protein liquid-liquid phase separation can initiate tau aggregation

The EMBO Journal
Susanne WegmannBradley T Hyman

Abstract

The transition between soluble intrinsically disordered tau protein and aggregated tau in neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease is unknown. Here, we propose that soluble tau species can undergo liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) under cellular conditions and that phase-separated tau droplets can serve as an intermediate toward tau aggregate formation. We demonstrate that phosphorylated or mutant aggregation prone recombinant tau undergoes LLPS, as does high molecular weight soluble phospho-tau isolated from human Alzheimer brain. Droplet-like tau can also be observed in neurons and other cells. We found that tau droplets become gel-like in minutes, and over days start to spontaneously form thioflavin-S-positive tau aggregates that are competent of seeding cellular tau aggregation. Since analogous LLPS observations have been made for FUS, hnRNPA1, and TDP43, which aggregate in the context of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we suggest that LLPS represents a biophysical process with a role in multiple different neurodegenerative diseases.

  • References97
  • Citations41

References

  • References97
  • Citations41

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

TARDBP gene
Familial Alzheimer Disease (FAD)
Heterogeneous Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein A1
HEK293 Cells
Alkalescens-Dispar Group
TDP-43 protein, human
Neurofibrillary Degeneration (Morphologic Abnormality)
Proteins, Recombinant DNA
Biophysical Processes
Neurons

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