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      MAPT mutations, tauopathy, and mechanisms of neurodegeneration

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      Laboratory Investigation

      Springer Nature

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          Abstract

          In multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a prominent pathological feature is the aberrant aggregation and inclusion formation of the microtubule associated protein tau. Because of the pathological association, these disorders are often referred to as tauopathies. Mutations in the MAPT gene that encodes tau can cause frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17), providing the clearest evidence that the tauopathy plays a causal role in neurodegeneration. However, large gaps in our knowledge remain regarding how various FTDP-17 linked tau mutations promote tau aggregation and neurodegeneration, and more generally how the tauopathy is linked to neurodegeneration. Herein, we review what is known about how FTDP-17-linked pathogenic MAPT mutations cause disease with a major focus on the prion-like properties of wild-type and mutant tau proteins. The hypothesized mechanisms by which mutations in the MAPT gene promote tauopathy are quite varied, and may not provide definitive insights into how tauopathy arises in the absence of mutation. Further, differences in the ability of tau and mutant tau proteins to support prion-like propagation in various model systems raises questions about the generalizability of this mechanism in various tauopathies. Notably, understanding the mechanisms of tauopathy induction and spread and tau-induced neurodegeneration have important implications for tau-targeting therapeutics.

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          Most cited references 116

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          Neurofibrillary tangles but not senile plaques parallel duration and severity of Alzheimer's disease.

          We studied the accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and senile plaques (SPs) in 10 Alzheimer's disease patients who had been examined during life. We counted NFTs and SPs in 13 cytoarchitectural regions representing limbic, primary sensory, and association cortices, and in subcortical neurotransmitter-specific areas. The degree of neuropathologic change was compared with the severity of dementia, as assessed by the Blessed Dementia Scale and duration of illness. We found that (1) the severity of dementia was positively related to the number of NFTs in neocortex, but not to the degree of SP deposition; (2) NFTs accumulate in a consistent pattern reflecting hierarchic vulnerability of individual cytoarchitectural fields; (3) NFTs appeared in the entorhinal cortex, CA1/subiculum field of the hippocampal formation, and the amygdala early in the disease process; and (4) the degree of SP deposition was also related to a hierarchic vulnerability of certain brain areas to accumulate SPs, but the pattern of SP distribution was different from that of NFT.
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            Neuronal loss correlates with but exceeds neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease.

            To assess the relationship between dementia, neuronal loss, and neuropathological findings in Alzheimer's disease (AD), we counted the number of neurons, senile plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles in a high-order association cortex. We studied the superior temporal sulcus of 34 individuals with AD and 17 nondemented control subjects, using statistically unbiased, stereological counting techniques. The number of superior temporal sulcus neurons in nondemented control subjects was stable across the sixth to ninth decades. In AD, more than 50% of the neurons were lost. Both neuronal loss and neurofibrillary tangles increased in parallel with the duration and severity of illness, but the amount of neuronal loss exceeded by manyfold the amount of neurofibrillary tangles accumulated. In contrast to the correlation between neurofibrillary tangles and neuronal loss, the number of senile plaques and the percentage of the superior temporal sulcus that was covered by Abeta (amyloid burden) were not related to neuronal loss, number of neurofibrillary tangles, or duration of disease. Neither the amount nor the rate of neuronal loss in the superior temporal sulcus in AD correlated with apolipoprotein E genotype. These data suggest that neuronal loss in association areas such as the superior temporal sulcus contributes directly to cognitive impairment in AD.
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              Tau is a candidate gene for chromosome 17 frontotemporal dementia.

              Frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism, chromosome 17 type (FTDP-17), a recently defined disease entity, is clinically characterized by personality changes sometimes associated with psychosis, hyperorality, and diminished speech output, disturbed executive function and nonfluent aphasia, bradykinesia, and rigidity. Neuropathological changes include frontotemporal atrophy often associated with atrophy of the basal ganglia, substantia nigra, and amygdala. Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are seen in some but not all families. Inheritance is autosomal dominant and the gene has been regionally localized to 17q21-22 in a 2- to 4-centimorgan (cM) region flanked by markers D17S800 and D17S791. The gene for tau, the primary component of NFTs, is located in the same region of chromosome 17. Tau was evaluated as a candidate gene. Physical mapping studies place tau within 2 megabases or less of D17S791, but it is probably outside the D17S800-D17S791 FTDP-17 interval. DNA sequence analysis of tau coding regions in affected subjects from two FTDP-17 families revealed nine DNA sequence variants, eight of which were also identified in controls and are thus polymorphisms. A ninth variant (Val279Met) was found in one FTDP-17 family but not in the second FTDP-17 family. Three lines of evidence indicate that the Val279Met change is an FTDP-17 causative mutation. First, the mutation site is highly conserved, and a normal valine is found at this position in all three tau interrepeat sequences and in other microtubule associated protein tau homologues. Second, the mutation co-segregates with the disease in family A. Third, the mutation is not found in normal controls.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Laboratory Investigation
                Lab Invest
                Springer Nature
                0023-6837
                1530-0307
                February 11 2019
                Article
                10.1038/s41374-019-0197-x
                7289372
                30742061
                © 2019

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