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J Cell Physiol. 2012 Mar;227(3):1220-5. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22842.

Tau splicing and the intricacies of dementia.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655, USA.


Tau is a microtubule-associated protein that fulfills several functions critical for neuronal formation and health. Tau discharges its functions by producing multiple isoforms via regulated alternative splicing. These isoforms modulate tau function in normal brain by altering the domains of the protein, thereby influencing its localization, conformation, and post-translational modifications and hence its availability and affinity for microtubules and other ligands. Disturbances in tau expression result in disruption of the neuronal cytoskeleton and formation of tau structures (neurofibrillary tangles) found in brains of dementia sufferers. More specifically, aberrations in tau splicing regulation directly cause several neurodegenerative diseases, which lead to dementia. In this review, I present our cumulative knowledge of tau splicing regulation in connection with neurodegeneration and also briefly go over the still-extensive list of questions that are connected to tau (dys)function.

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