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FTDP-17 Mutations Alter the Aggregation and Microtubule Stabilization Propensity of Tau in an Isoform-Specific Fashion

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-12-18, 00:00 authored by Yamini Mutreja, Benjamin Combs, T. Chris Gamblin
More than 50 different intronic and exonic autosomal dominant mutations in the tau gene have been linked to the neurodegenerative disorder frontotemporal dementia with Parkinsonism linked to chromosome-17 (FTDP-17). Although the pathological and clinical presentation of this disorder is heterogeneous among patients, the deposition of tau as pathological aggregates is a common feature. Collectively, FTDP-17 mutations have been shown to alter tau’s ability to stabilize microtubules, enhance its aggregation, alter mRNA splicing, or induce its hyperphosphorylation, among other effects. Previous in vitro studies from our lab revealed that these mutations differ markedly from each other in the longest 2N4R isoform of tau. However, it is not entirely known whether the effect of a single mutation varies when compared between different isoforms of tau. Differences in the isoelectric points of the N-terminal region of tau isoforms lead to changes in their biochemical properties, raising the possibility that isoforms could also be disproportionately affected by disease-related mechanisms such as mutations. We therefore performed a comparative study of three FTDP-17 mutations present in different regions of tau (R5L, P301L, and R406W) in the three 4R isoforms of tau. We observed significant differences in the effect these mutations exert on the total amount and kinetics of aggregation, aggregate length distributions, and microtubule stabilizing propensity of 4R tau isoforms for all three selected mutants. These results demonstrate that different combinations of FTDP-17 mutations and tau isoforms are functionally distinct and could have important implications for our understanding of disease and animal models of tauopathies.