Amyloid β-protein oligomers promote the uptake of tau fibril seeds potentiating intracellular tau aggregation

Research paper by Woo Shik Shin, Jing Di, Qin Cao, Binsen Li, Paul M. Seidler, Kevin A. Murray, Gal Bitan, Lin Jiang

Indexed on: 19 Oct '19Published on: 18 Oct '19Published in: Alzheimer's Research & Therapy


Repeated failure of drug candidates targeting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in clinical trials likely stems from a lack of understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying AD pathogenesis. Recent research has highlighted synergistic interactions between aggregated amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau proteins in AD, but the molecular details of how these interactions drive AD pathology remain elusive and speculative.Here, we test the hypothesis that Aβ potentiates intracellular tau aggregation, and show that oligomeric Aβ specifically exacerbates proteopathic seeding by tau. Using tau-biosensor cells, we show that treatment with sub-toxic concentrations of Aβ oligomers, but not monomers or fibrils, “primes” cells, making them more susceptible to tau seeding. The treatment with Aβ oligomers enhances intracellular tau aggregation in a dose-dependent manner when the cells are seeded with either recombinant or brain-derived tau fibrils, whereas little or no aggregation is observed in the absence of Aβ-oligomer priming.Priming by Aβ oligomers appears to be specific to tau, as α-synuclein seeding is unaffected by this treatment. Aβ oligomer-enhanced tau seeding also occurs in primary mouse neurons and human neuroblastoma cells. Using fluorescently labeled tau seeds, we find that treatment with Aβ oligomers significantly enhances the cellular uptake of tau seeds, whereas a known tau-uptake inhibitor blocks the effect of Aβ on tau uptake.The ability of Aβ to promote tau seeding suggests a specific and plausible mechanism by which extracellular Aβ initiates a deleterious cascade that is unique to AD. These data suggest that the Aβ-mediated potentiation of tau uptake into cells should also be taken into account when designing Aβ-targeted therapeutics.