Looking for novel functions of tau.

Avila J, de Barreda EG, Fuster-Matanzo A, Simón D, Llorens-Martín M, Engel T, Lucas JJ, Díaz-Hernández M, Hernández F.

Biochemical Society Transaction.
doi: 10.1042/BST20120006.

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.

Tau protein and adult hippocampal neurogenesis.

Fuster-Matanzo A, Llorens-Martín M, Jurado-Arjona J, Avila J, Hernández F.

Frontiers in Neuroscience.
doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00104.

Tau protein is a microtubule-associated protein found in the axonal compartment that stabilizes neuronal microtubules under normal physiological conditions. Tau metabolism has attracted much attention because of its role in neurodegenerative disorders called tauopathies, mainly Alzheimer disease. Here, we review recent findings suggesting that axonal outgrowth in subgranular zone during adult hippocampal neurogenesis requires a dynamic microtubule network and tau protein facilitates to maintain that dynamic cytoskeleton. Those functions are carried out in part by tau isoform with only three microtubule-binding domains (without exon 10) and by presence of hyperphosphorylated tau forms. Thus, tau is a good marker and a valuable tool to study new axons in adult neurogenesis.

Tau isoform with three microtubule binding domains is a marker of new axons generated from the subgranular zone in the hippocampal dentate gyrus: implications for Alzheimer's disease.

Llorens-Martin M, Teixeira CM, Fuster-Matanzo A, Jurado-Arjona J, Borrell V, Soriano E, Avila J, Hernández F.

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
29(4): 921-30.
doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-112057.

In the adult hippocampal dentate gyrus, newborn granule cells grow dendrites into the molecular layer and send axons into the CA3 region. Several molecular markers have been used to analyze production of these new neurons; however, no good markers for new axons have been described. Here we demonstrate that tau protein isoform with three microtubule binding domains (3R-Tau) is a marker of those axons following an antigen retrieval protocol. By using retrovirus-mediated GFP transduction, GFP can be detected in a period of 7-14 days after viral infection. We also provide a "proof of principle" demonstration of the power of that labeling showing modulation of 3R-Tau positive axons under physiological conditions (exercise and aging) as well as in a FTDP-17 neurodegenerative model and Alzheimer's disease models (mice overexpressing AβPPsw, ind or GSK3β). We conclude that 3R-Tau would be an efficient marker and a valuable tool to study new axons in adult neurogenesis as well as in neurodegenerative processes.


Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO) Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Campus de Cantoblanco)
C/ Nicolás Cabrera 1 - 28049 Madrid (Spain)

María Llorens-Martín (PI)
+34 911964632