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Biochemistry. 2012 Jan 31;51(4):888-98. doi: 10.1021/bi2018078. Epub 2012 Jan 23.

Hsp70 alters tau function and aggregation in an isoform specific manner.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045, United States.


Tauopathies are characterized by abnormal aggregation of the microtubule associated protein tau. This aggregation is thought to occur when tau undergoes shifts from its native conformation to one that exposes hydrophobic areas on separate monomers, allowing contact and subsequent association into oligomers and filaments. Molecular chaperones normally function by binding to exposed hydrophobic stretches on proteins and assisting in their refolding. Chaperones of the heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) family have been implicated in the prevention of abnormal tau aggregation in adult neurons. Tau exists as six alternatively spliced isoforms, and all six isoforms appear capable of forming the pathological aggregates seen in Alzheimer's disease. Because tau isoforms differ in primary sequence, we sought to determine whether Hsp70 would differentially affect the aggregation and microtubule assembly characteristics of the various tau isoforms. We found that Hsp70 inhibits tau aggregation directly and not through inducer-mediated effects. We also determined that Hsp70 inhibits the aggregation of each individual tau isoform and was more effective at inhibiting the three repeat isoforms. Finally, all tau isoforms robustly induced microtubule formation while in the presence of Hsp70. The results presented herein indicate that Hsp70 affects tau isoform dysfunction while having very little impact on the normal function of tau to mediate microtubule assembly. This indicates that targeting Hsp70 to tau may provide a therapeutic approach for the treatment of tauopathies that avoids disruption of normal tau function.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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