Biochimica et biophysica acta

Sequence-dependent abnormal aggregation of human Tau fragment in an inducible cell model.

PMID 25912737


A pathological hallmark of Alzheimer disease (AD) is the accumulation of misfolded hyperphosphorylated microtubule-associated protein Tau within neurons, forming neurofibrillary tangles and leading to synaptic dysfunction and neuronal death. Here we study sequence-dependent abnormal aggregation of human fragment Tau244-372 in an inducible cell model. As evidenced by confocal laser scanning microscopy, Western blot, and immunogold electron microscopy, fibril-forming motifs are essential and sufficient for abnormal aggregation of Tau244-372 in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells induced by Congo red: when its two fibril-forming segments PHF6 and PHF6* are deleted, Tau244-372 does lose its ability to form fibrils in SH-SY5Y cells, and the replacement of PHF6 and PHF6* with an unrelated amyloidogenic sequence IFQINS from human lysozyme does rescue the fibril-forming ability of Tau244-372 in SH-SY5Y cells. By contrast, insertion of a non-fibril forming peptide GGGGGG does not drive the disabled Tau244-372 to misfold in SH-SY5Y cells. Furthermore, as revealed by quantum dots based probes combined with annexin V staining, annexin V-FITC apoptosis detection assay, and immunofluorescence, fibril-forming motifs are essential and sufficient for early apoptosis of living SH-SY5Y cells induced by abnormal aggregation of Tau244-372. Our results suggest that fibril-forming motifs could be the determinants of Tau protein tending to misfold in living cells, thereby inducing neuronal apoptosis and causing the initiation and development of AD.