A new function of microtubule-associated protein tau: Involvement in chromosome stability

Giacomina Rossi, Leda Dalprà, Francesca Crosti, Sara Lissoni, Francesca L. Sciacca, Marcella Catania, Giuseppe Di Fede, Michela Mangieri, Giorgio Giaccone, Danilo Croci, Fabrizio Tagliavini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Tau is a microtubule-associated protein that promotes assembly and stabilization of cytoskeleton microtubules. It is mostly expressed in neuronal and glial cells but it is also present in non-neural cells such as fibroblasts and lymphocytes. An altered tau produces cytoskeleton pathology resulting in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and tauopathies. Tau has been suggested to be a multifunctional protein, due to its localization in different cellular compartments. However its further functions are still unclear. We analyzed the distribution of tau in human skin fibroblasts showing its localization in the nucleus and along mitotic chromosomes. Then, we investigated if an altered tau, such as the P301L mutated protein associated with frontotemporal dementia, could produce nuclear pathology. We found that patients carrying the mutation consistently had several chromosome aberrations in their fibroblasts and lymphocytes: chromosome and chromatid breakages or gaps, aneuploidies, translocations, in addition to chromatin bridges and decondensed chromosomes. Our findings argue for a role of tau in chromosome stability by means of its interaction with both microtubules and chromatin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1788-1794
Number of pages7
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2008


  • Chromatin
  • Chromosome
  • Microtubules
  • Mitosis
  • P301L tau mutation
  • Tau
  • Tauopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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  • Cite this

    Rossi, G., Dalprà, L., Crosti, F., Lissoni, S., Sciacca, F. L., Catania, M., Di Fede, G., Mangieri, M., Giaccone, G., Croci, D., & Tagliavini, F. (2008). A new function of microtubule-associated protein tau: Involvement in chromosome stability. Cell Cycle, 7(12), 1788-1794.