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Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2019 Mar 1;7(1):31. doi: 10.1186/s40478-019-0682-x.

The elusive tau molecular structures: can we translate the recent breakthroughs into new targets for intervention?

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Department of chemistry and biochemistry, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106, USA.
Dementia Research group, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, E Sussex, BN1 9QG, UK.
Chemistry Department, Science College, Mustansiriyah University, Baghdad, Iraq.
Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, INP, Inst Neurophysiopathol, Fac Pharm, Marseille, France.
University of Lille, CNRS, UMR8576, 59000, Lille, France.
Functional Biology, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, Box 2433, 3001, Heverlee, Belgium.
Pharmabs, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, box 820, B 3000, Leuven, Belgium.
ADx NeuroSciences NV, Technologiepark Zwijnaarde 94, 9052, Ghent, Belgium.
Life Molecular Imaging, Berlin, Germany.
Neurology Department, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, 10 Avenue Hippocrate, 1200 Brussels, Belgium.
Gordon Center for Medical Imaging, Radiology Department, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
CIBERNED (Network Center for Biomedical Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases), Madrid, Spain.
CIEN Foundation, Queen Sofia Foundation Alzheimer Center, Madrid, Spain.
University of Lille, Inserm, CHU-Lille, UMRS1172, 59000, Lille, France.
University of Lille, CNRS, UMR8576, 59000, Lille, France.


Insights into tau molecular structures have advanced significantly in recent years. This field has been the subject of recent breakthroughs, including the first cryo-electron microscopy structures of tau filaments from Alzheimer's and Pick's disease inclusions, as well as the structure of the repeat regions of tau bound to microtubules. Tau structure covers various species as the tau protein itself takes many forms. We will here address a range of studies that help to define the many facets of tau protein structures and how they translate into pathogenic forms. New results shed light on previous data that need now to be revisited in order to up-date our knowledge of tau molecular structure. Finally, we explore how these data can contribute the important medical aspects of this research - diagnosis and therapeutics.


Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis; Alzheimer’s disease; tau structure; tau aggregation; Amyloid; Tauopathies

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