The microtubule-associated protein Tau plays a crucial role in regulating the dynamic stability of microtubules during neuronal development and synaptic transmission. In a group of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer disease and other tauopathies, conformational changes in Tau are associated with the initial stages of disease pathology. Folding of Tau into the MC1 conformation, where the amino acids at residues 7-9 interact with residues 312-342, is one of the earliest pathological alterations of Tau in Alzheimer disease. The mechanism of this conformational change in Tau and the subsequent effect on function and association to microtubules is largely unknown. Recent work by our group and others suggests that members of the Hsp70 family play a significant role in Tau regulation. Our new findings suggest that heat shock cognate (Hsc) 70 facilitates Tau-mediated microtubule polymerization. The association of Hsc70 with Tau was rapidly enhanced following treatment with microtubule-destabilizing agents. The fate of Tau released from the microtubule was found to be dependent on ATPase activity of Hsc70. Microtubule destabilization also rapidly increased the MC1 folded conformation of Tau. An in vitro assay suggests that Hsc70 facilitates formation of MC1 Tau. However, in a hyperphosphorylating environment, the formation of MC1 was abrogated, but Hsc70 binding to Tau was enhanced. Thus, under normal circumstances, MC1 formation may be a protective conformation facilitated by Hsc70. However, in a diseased environment, Hsc70 may preserve Tau in a more unstructured state, perhaps facilitating its pathogenicity.
PubMed ID: 20308058
PMC ID: PMC2878041
Article link: J Biol Chem.
Grant support: AG031291 NIA NIH HHS , NS059690 NINDS NIH HHS , R01 NS059690-04 NINDS NIH HHS , R01 NS059690 NINDS NIH HHS
Genes referenced: hsp70 hspa1l hspa8 mapt