Chaperones increase association of tau protein with microtubules

Fei Dou, William J. Netzer, Kentaro Tanemura, Feng Li, F. Ulrich Hartl, Akihiko Takashima, Gunnar K. Gouras, Paul Greengard, Huaxi Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

357 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Molecular chaperones and their functions in protein folding have been implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease, which are characterized by accumulation of protein aggregates (e.g., α-synuclein and huntingtin, respectively). These aggregates have been shown in various experimental systems to respond to changes in levels of molecular chaperones suggesting the possibility of therapeutic intervention and a role for chaperones in disease pathogenesis. It remains unclear whether chaperones also play a role in Alzheimer's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by β-amyloid and tau protein aggregates. Here, we report an inverse relationship between aggregated tau and the levels of heat shock protein (Hsp)70/90 in tau transgenic mouse and Alzheimer's disease brains. In various cellular models, increased levels of Hsp70 and Hsp90 promote tau solubility and tau binding to microtubules, reduce insoluble tau and cause reduced tau phosphorylation. Conversely, lowered levels of Hsp70 and Hsp90 result in the opposite effects. We have also demonstrated a direct association of the chaperones with tau proteins. Our results suggest that up-regulation of molecular chaperones may suppress formation of neurofibrillary tangles by partitioning tau into a productive folding pathway and thereby preventing tau aggregation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-726
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume100
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Jan 21
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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