V363I and V363A mutated tau affect aggregation and neuronal dysfunction differently in C. elegans

Federica Morelli, Margherita Romeo, Maria Monica Barzago, Marco Bolis, Davide Mattioni, Giacomina Rossi, Fabrizio Tagliavini, Antonio Bastone, Mario Salmona, Luisa Diomede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Mutations in the microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) gene have been linked to a heterogeneous group of progressive neurodegenerative disorders commonly called tauopathies. From patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration with distinct atypical clinical phenotypes, we recently identified two new mutations on the same codon, in position 363 of the MAPT gene, which resulted in the production of Val-to-Ala (tauV363A) or Val-to-Ile (tauV363I) mutated tau. These substitutions specifically affected microtubule polymerization and propensity of tau to aggregate in vitro suggesting that single amino acid modification may dictate the fate of the neuropathology. To clarify whether tauV363A and tauV363I affect protein misfolding differently in vivo driving certain phenotypes, we generated new transgenic C. elegans strains. Human 2N4R tau carrying the mutation was expressed in all the neurons of worms. The behavioral defects, misfolding and proteotoxicity caused by the tauV363A and tauV363I mutated proteins were compared to that induced by the expression of wild-type tau (tauwt). Pan-neuronal expression of human 2N4R tauWT in worms resulted in a neuromuscular defect with characteristics of a neurodegenerative phenotype. This defect was worsened by the expression of mutated proteins which drive distinct neuronal dysfunctions and synaptic impairments involving, in transgenic worms expressing tauV363A (V363A) also a pharyngeal defect never linked before to other mutations. The two mutations differently affected the tau phosphorylation and misfolding propensities: tauV363I was highly phosphorylated on epitopes corresponding to Thr231 and Ser202/Thr205, and accumulated as insoluble tau assemblies whereas tauV363A showed a greater propensity to form soluble oligomeric assemblies. These findings uphold the role of a single amino acid substitution in specifically affecting the ability of tau to form soluble and insoluble assemblies, opening up new perspectives in the pathogenic mechanism underlying tauopathies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-234
Number of pages9
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
Volume117
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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