Blocking the Thiol at Cysteine-322 Destabilizes Tau Protein and Prevents Its Oligomer Formation

Abnormal accumulation of tau protein into oligomers contributes to neuronal dysfunction. Reduction of tau level is potentially able to prevent its accumulation. Here we uncover a critical role of the free thiol at Cys-322 in determining tau stability. We found that the application of thiol-blocking agents like NEM or MMTS blocks this thiol, by which it destabilizes tau protein and prevents its oligomer formation. Furthermore, we identified a tau-interacting protein, selenoprotein W, which attenuates tau accumulation by forming disulfide linkage between SelW Cys-37 and tau Cys-322. These findings provide a promising strategy to prevent tau accumulation and oligomer formation.