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EMBO J. 2019 Dec 2;38(23):e102345. doi: 10.15252/embj.2019102345. Epub 2019 Nov 7.

Tau deletion reduces plaque-associated BACE1 accumulation and decelerates plaque formation in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

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German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Munich, Germany.
Munich Cluster of Systems Neurology (SyNergy), Munich, Germany.
IINS, UMR 5297, Université Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France.
CNRS, IINS, UMR 5297, Bordeaux, France.
Neuroproteomics, School of Medicine, Klinikum rechts der Isar and Institute for Advanced Study, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.
Neuroscience, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), Basel, Switzerland.
Center for Neuropathology and Prion Research, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany.


In Alzheimer's disease, BACE1 protease initiates the amyloidogenic processing of amyloid precursor protein (APP) that eventually results in synthesis of β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide. Aβ deposition in turn causes accumulation of BACE1 in plaque-associated dystrophic neurites, thereby potentiating progressive Aβ deposition once initiated. Since systemic pharmacological BACE inhibition causes adverse effects in humans, it is important to identify strategies that specifically normalize overt BACE1 activity around plaques. The microtubule-associated protein tau regulates axonal transport of proteins, and tau deletion rescues Aβ-induced transport deficits in vitro. In the current study, long-term in vivo two-photon microscopy and immunohistochemistry were performed in tau-deficient APPPS1 mice. Tau deletion reduced plaque-associated axonal pathology and BACE1 accumulation without affecting physiological BACE1 expression distant from plaques. Thereby, tau deletion effectively decelerated formation of new plaques and reduced plaque compactness. The data revealed that tau reinforces Aβ deposition, presumably by contributing to accumulation of BACE1 in plaque-associated dystrophies. Targeting tau-dependent mechanisms could become a suitable strategy to specifically reduce overt BACE1 activity around plaques, thereby avoiding adverse effects of systemic BACE inhibition.


BACE1; axonal dystrophies; tau deletion; two-photon in vivo microscopy; β-amyloid plaque

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