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Aβ-induced acceleration of Alzheimer-related τ-pathology spreading and its association with prion protein

Gomes, Luis, Hipp, Silvia, Upadhaya, Ajeet, Balakrishnan, Karthikeyan, Koper, Marta, Reichwald, Julia, Rabe, Sabine, Vandenberghe, Rik, von Arnim, Christine, Tousseyn, Thomas, Staufenbiel, Matthias and Thal, Dietmar Rudolf (2019) Aβ-induced acceleration of Alzheimer-related τ-pathology spreading and its association with prion protein. Acta Neuropathologica. ISSN 14320533


Extracellular deposition of amyloid β-protein (Aβ) in amyloid plaques and intracellular accumulation of abnormally phosphorylated τ-protein (p-τ) in neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) represent pathological hallmark lesions of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Both lesions develop in parallel in the human brain throughout the preclinical and clinical course of AD. Nevertheless, it is not yet clear whether there is a direct link between Aβ and τ pathology or whether other proteins are involved in this process. To address this question, we crossed amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic mice overexpressing human APP with the Swedish mutation (670/671 KM → NL) (APP23), human wild-type APP (APP51/16), or a proenkephalin signal peptide linked to human Aβ42 (APP48) with τ-transgenic mice overexpressing human mutant 4-repeat τ-protein with the P301S mutation (TAU58). In 6-month-old APP23xTAU58 and APP51/16xTAU58 mice, soluble Aβ was associated with the aggravation of p-τ pathology propagation into the CA1/subiculum region, whereas 6-month-old TAU58 and APP48xTAU58 mice neither exhibited significant amounts of p-τ pathology in the CA1/subiculum region nor displayed significant levels of soluble Aβ in the forebrain. In APP23xTAU58 and APP51/16xTAU58 mice showing an acceleration of p-τ propagation, Aβ and p-τ were co-immunoprecipitated with cellular prion protein (PrPC). A similar interaction between PrPC, p-τ and Aβ was observed in human AD brains. This association was particularly noticed in 60% of the symptomatic AD cases in our sample, suggesting that PrPC may play a role in the progression of AD pathology. An in vitro pull-down assay confirmed that PrPC is capable of interacting with Aβ and p-τ. Using a proximity ligation assay, we could demonstrate proximity (less than ~ 30–40 nm distance) between PrPC and Aβ and between PrPC and p-τ in APP23xTAU58 mouse brain as well as in human AD brain. Proximity between PrPC and p-τ was also seen in APP51/16xTAU58, APP48xTAU58, and TAU58 mice. Based on these findings, it is tempting to speculate that PrPC is a critical player in the interplay between Aβ and p-τ propagation at least in a large group of AD cases. Preexisting p-τ pathology interacting with PrPC, thereby, appears to be a prerequisite for Aβ to function as a p-τ pathology accelerator via PrPC.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease Amyloid-β Cross seeding Neuropathology Prion protein Tau-protein Transgenic mice
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 00:45
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2019 00:45