Transmission and spreading of tauopathy in transgenic mouse brain.
ABSTRACT: Hyperphosphorylated tau makes up the filamentous intracellular inclusions of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. In the disease process, neuronal tau inclusions first appear in the transentorhinal cortex from where they seem to spread to the hippocampal formation and neocortex. Cognitive impairment becomes manifest when inclusions reach the hippocampus, with abundant neocortical tau inclusions and extracellular beta-amyloid deposits being the defining pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. An abundance of tau inclusions, in the absence of beta-amyloid deposits, defines Pick's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and other diseases. Tau mutations cause familial forms of frontotemporal dementia, establishing that tau protein dysfunction is sufficient to cause neurodegeneration and dementia. Thus, transgenic mice expressing mutant (for example, P301S) human tau in nerve cells show the essential features of tauopathies, including neurodegeneration and abundant filaments made of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. By contrast, mouse lines expressing single isoforms of wild-type human tau do not produce tau filaments or show neurodegeneration. Here we have used tau-expressing lines to investigate whether experimental tauopathy can be transmitted. We show that injection of brain extract from mutant P301S tau-expressing mice into the brain of transgenic wild-type tau-expressing animals induces assembly of wild-type human tau into filaments and spreading of pathology from the site of injection to neighbouring brain regions.
Project description:Filamentous inclusions made of hyperphosphorylated tau are characteristic of numerous human neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, tangle-only dementia, Pick disease, argyrophilic grain disease (AGD), progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration. In Alzheimer's disease and AGD, it has been shown that filamentous tau appears to spread in a stereotypic manner as the disease progresses. We previously demonstrated that the injection of brain extracts from human mutant P301S tau-expressing transgenic mice into the brains of mice transgenic for wild-type human tau (line ALZ17) resulted in the assembly of wild-type human tau into filaments and the spreading of tau inclusions from the injection sites to anatomically connected brain regions. Here we injected brain extracts from humans who had died with various tauopathies into the hippocampus and cerebral cortex of ALZ17 mice. Argyrophilic tau inclusions formed in all cases and following the injection of the corresponding brain extracts, we recapitulated the hallmark lesions of AGD, PSP and CBD. Similar inclusions also formed after intracerebral injection of brain homogenates from human tauopathies into nontransgenic mice. Moreover, the induced formation of tau aggregates could be propagated between mouse brains. These findings suggest that once tau aggregates have formed in discrete brain areas, they become self-propagating and spread in a prion-like manner.
Project description:The assembly of tau protein into abnormal filaments and brain cell degeneration are characteristic of a number of human neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17. Several murine models have been generated to better understand the mechanisms contributing to tau assembly and neurodegeneration. Taking advantage of the more elaborate central nervous system and higher cognitive abilities of the rat, we generated a model expressing the longest human tau isoform (2N4R) with the P301S mutation. This transgenic rat line, R962-hTau, exhibits the main features of human tauopathies, such as: age-dependent increase in inclusions comprised of aggregated-tau, neuronal loss, global neurodegeneration as reflected by brain atrophy and ventricular dilation, alterations in astrocytic and microglial morphology, and myelin loss. In addition, substantial deficits across multiple memory and learning paradigms, including novel object recognition, fear conditioning and Morris water maze tasks, were observed at the time of advanced tauopathy. These results support the concept that progressive tauopathy correlates with brain atrophy and cognitive impairment.
Project description:Accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau directly correlates with cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease and other primary tauopathies. One therapeutic strategy may be to reduce total tau expression. We identified antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) that selectively decreased human tau mRNA and protein in mice expressing mutant P301S human tau. After reduction of human tau in this mouse model of tauopathy, fewer tau inclusions developed, and preexisting phosphorylated tau and Thioflavin S pathology were reversed. The resolution of tau pathology was accompanied by the prevention of hippocampal volume loss, neuronal death, and nesting deficits. In addition, mouse survival was extended, and pathological tau seeding was reversed. In nonhuman primates, tau ASOs distributed throughout the brain and spinal cord and reduced tau mRNA and protein in the brain, spinal cord, and cerebrospinal fluid. These data support investigation of a tau-lowering therapy in human patients who have tau-positive inclusions even after pathological tau deposition has begun.
Project description:Tauopathies are characterized by the progressive accumulation of hyperphosphorylated, aggregated forms of tau. Our laboratory has previously demonstrated that passive immunization with an anti-tau antibody, HJ8.5, decreased accumulation of pathological tau in a human P301S tau-expressing transgenic (P301S-tg) mouse model of frontotemporal dementia/tauopathy. To investigate whether the F<sub>c</sub> domain of HJ8.5 is required for the therapeutic effect, we engineered single-chain variable fragments (scFvs) derived from HJ8.5 with variable linker lengths, all specific to human tau. Based on different binding properties, we selected two anti-tau scFvs and tested their efficacy in vivo by adeno-associated virus-mediated gene transfer to the brain of P301S-tg mice. The scFvs significantly reduced levels of hyperphosphorylated, aggregated tau in brain tissue of P301S-tg mice, associated with a decrease in detergent-soluble tau species. Interestingly, these mice showed substantial levels of scFvs in the cerebrospinal fluid without significant effects on total extracellular tau levels. Therefore, our study provides a novel strategy for anti-tau immunotherapeutics that potentially limits a detrimental proinflammatory response.
Project description:APOE4 is the strongest genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer disease. ApoE4 increases brain amyloid-? pathology relative to other ApoE isoforms. However, whether APOE independently influences tau pathology, the other major proteinopathy of Alzheimer disease and other tauopathies, or tau-mediated neurodegeneration, is not clear. By generating P301S tau transgenic mice on either a human ApoE knock-in (KI) or ApoE knockout (KO) background, here we show that P301S/E4 mice have significantly higher tau levels in the brain and a greater extent of somatodendritic tau redistribution by three months of age compared with P301S/E2, P301S/E3, and P301S/EKO mice. By nine months of age, P301S mice with different ApoE genotypes display distinct phosphorylated tau protein (p-tau) staining patterns. P301S/E4 mice develop markedly more brain atrophy and neuroinflammation than P301S/E2 and P301S/E3 mice, whereas P301S/EKO mice are largely protected from these changes. In vitro, E4-expressing microglia exhibit higher innate immune reactivity after lipopolysaccharide treatment. Co-culturing P301S tau-expressing neurons with E4-expressing mixed glia results in a significantly higher level of tumour-necrosis factor-? (TNF-?) secretion and markedly reduced neuronal viability compared with neuron/E2 and neuron/E3 co-cultures. Neurons co-cultured with EKO glia showed the greatest viability with the lowest level of secreted TNF-?. Treatment of P301S neurons with recombinant ApoE (E2, E3, E4) also leads to some neuronal damage and death compared with the absence of ApoE, with ApoE4 exacerbating the effect. In individuals with a sporadic primary tauopathy, the presence of an ?4 allele is associated with more severe regional neurodegeneration. In individuals who are positive for amyloid-? pathology with symptomatic Alzheimer disease who usually have tau pathology, ?4-carriers demonstrate greater rates of disease progression. Our results demonstrate that ApoE affects tau pathogenesis, neuroinflammation, and tau-mediated neurodegeneration independently of amyloid-? pathology. ApoE4 exerts a 'toxic' gain of function whereas the absence of ApoE is protective.
Project description:The relationship between the two most prominent neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's Disease (AD), extracellular amyloid-β (Aβ) deposits and intracellular accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau in neurofibrillary tangles (NFT), remains at present not fully understood. A large body of evidence places Aβ upstream in the cascade of pathological events, triggering NFTs formation and the subsequent neuron loss. Extracellular Aβ deposits were indeed causative of an increased tau phosphorylation and accumulation in several transgenic models but the contribution of soluble Aβ peptides is still controversial. Among the different Aβ variants, the N-terminally truncated peptide Aβ<sub>4-42</sub> is among the most abundant. To understand whether soluble Aβ<sub>4-42</sub> peptides impact the onset or extent of tau pathology, we have crossed the homozygous Tg4-42 mouse model of AD, exclusively expressing Aβ<sub>4-42</sub> peptides, with the PS19 (P301S) tau transgenic model. Behavioral assessment showed that the resulting double-transgenic line presented a partial worsening of motor performance and spatial memory deficits in the aged group. While an increased loss of distal CA1 pyramidal neurons was detected in young mice, no significant alterations in hippocampal tau phosphorylation were observed in immunohistochemical analyses.
Project description:Many studies of tauopathy use transgenic mice that overexpress the P301S mutant form of tau. Neuronal damage in these mice is associated with astrogliosis and induction of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression. GFAP-luc transgenic mice express firefly luciferase under the GFAP promoter, allowing bioluminescence to be measured non-invasively as a surrogate biomarker for astrogliosis. We bred double transgenic mice possessing both P301S and GFAP-luc cassettes and compared them to control mice bearing only the GFAP-luc transgene. We used serial bioluminescent images to define the onset and the time course of astrogliosis in these mice and this was correlated with the development of clinical deficit. Mice containing both GFAP-luc and P301S transgenes showed increased luminescence indicative of astroglial activation in the brain and spinal cord. Starting at 5 months old, the onset of clinical deterioration in these mice corresponded closely to the initial rise in the luminescent signal. Post mortem analysis showed the elevated luminescence was correlated with hyperphosphorylated tau deposition in the hippocampus of double transgenic mice. We used this method to determine the therapeutic effect of JM4 peptide [a small peptide immunomodulatory agent derived from human erythropoietin (EPO)] on double transgenic mice. JM4 treatment significantly decreased the intensity of luminescence, neurological deficit and hyperphosphorylated tau in mice with both the P301S and GFAP-luc transgenes. These findings indicate that bioluminescence imaging (BLI) is a powerful tool for quantifying GFAP expression in living P301S mice and can be used as a noninvasive biomarker of tau-induced neurodegeneration in preclinical therapeutic trials.
Project description:Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), composed of truncated and hyperphosphorylated tau, are a common feature of numerous aging-related neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the molecular mechanisms mediating tau truncation and aggregation during aging remain elusive. Here we show that asparagine endopeptidase (AEP), a lysosomal cysteine proteinase, is activated during aging and proteolytically degrades tau, abolishes its microtubule assembly function, induces tau aggregation and triggers neurodegeneration. AEP is upregulated and active during aging and is activated in human AD brain and tau P301S-transgenic mice with synaptic pathology and behavioral impairments, leading to tau truncation in NFTs. Tau P301S-transgenic mice with deletion of the gene encoding AEP show substantially reduced tau hyperphosphorylation, less synapse loss and rescue of impaired hippocampal synaptic function and cognitive deficits. Mice infected with adeno-associated virus encoding an uncleavable tau mutant showed attenuated pathological and behavioral defects compared to mice injected with adeno-associated virus encoding tau P301S. Together, these observations indicate that AEP acts as a crucial mediator of tau-related clinical and neuropathological changes. Inhibition of AEP may be therapeutically useful for treating tau-mediated neurodegenerative diseases.
Project description:The assembly of Tau into abundant ?-sheet-rich filaments characterizes human tauopathies. A pathological pathway leading from monomeric to filamentous Tau is believed to be at the heart of these diseases. However, in Drosophila models of Tauopathy, neurodegeneration has been observed in the absence of abundant Tau filaments. Here we investigated the role of Tau assembly into ?-sheets by expressing wild-type and ?306-311 human Tau-383 in the retina and brain of Drosophila. We analyzed both lines for eye abnormalities, brain vacuolization, Tau phosphorylation and assembly, as well as climbing activity and survival. Flies expressing wild-type Tau-383 showed MC-1 staining, Tau hyperphosphorylation, and neurodegeneration. By contrast, flies expressing ?306-311 Tau-383 had less MC-1 staining, reduced Tau hyperphosphorylation, and no detectable neurodegeneration. Their climbing ability and lifespan were similar to those of nontransgenic flies. Fluorescence spectroscopy after addition of Thioflavin T, a dye that interacts with ?-sheets, showed no signal when ?306-311 Tau-383 was incubated with heparin. These findings demonstrate that the assembly of Tau into ?-sheets is necessary for neurodegeneration.
Project description:Oligodendrocyte progenitor cell (OPC) differentiation is an important therapeutic target to promote remyelination in multiple sclerosis (MS). We previously reported hyperphosphorylated and aggregated microtubule-associated protein tau in MS lesions, suggesting its involvement in axonal degeneration. However, the influence of pathological tau-induced axonal damage on the potential for remyelination is unknown. Therefore, we investigated OPC differentiation in human P301S tau (P301S-htau) transgenic mice, both in vitro and in vivo following focal demyelination. In 2-month-old P301S-htau mice, which show hyperphosphorylated tau in neurons, we found atrophic axons in the spinal cord in the absence of prominent axonal degeneration. These signs of early axonal damage were associated with microgliosis and an upregulation of IL-1? and TNF?. Following in vivo focal white matter demyelination we found that OPCs differentiated more efficiently in P301S-htau mice than wild type (Wt) mice. We also found an increased level of myelin basic protein within the lesions, which however did not translate into increased remyelination due to higher susceptibility of P301S-htau axons to demyelination-induced degeneration compared to Wt axons. In vitro experiments confirmed higher differentiation capacity of OPCs from P301S-htau mice compared with Wt mice-derived OPCs. Because the OPCs from P301S-htau mice do not ectopically express the transgene, and when isolated from newborn mice behave like Wt mice-derived OPCs, we infer that their enhanced differentiation capacity must have been acquired through microenvironmental priming. Our data suggest the intriguing concept that damaged axons may signal to OPCs and promote their differentiation in the attempt at rescue by remyelination.