Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Proteopathy


Aggregation of TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a pathological signature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Although accumulating evidence suggests the involvement of RNA recognition motifs (RRMs) in TDP-43 proteinopathy, it remains unclear how native TDP-43 is converted to pathogenic forms. To elucidate the role of homeostasis of RRM1 structure in ALS pathogenesis, conformations of RRM1 under high pressure were monitored by NMR. We first found that RRM1 was prone to aggregation and had three regions showing stable chemical shifts during misfolding. Moreover, mass-spectrometric analysis of aggregated RRM1 revealed that one of the regions was located on protease-resistant β-strands containing two cysteines (C173 and C175), indicating that this region served as a core assembly interface in RRM1 aggregation. Although a fraction of RRM1 aggregates comprised disulfide-bonded oligomers, the substitution of cysteine(s) to serine(s) (C/S) resulted in unexpected acceleration of amyloid fibrils of RRM1 and disulfide-independent aggregate formation of full-length TDP-43. Notably, TDP-43 aggregates with RRM1-C/S required C-terminus, and replicated cytopathologies of ALS, including mislocalization, impaired RNA splicing, ubiquitination, phosphorylation, and motor neuron toxicity. Furthermore, RRM1-C/S accentuated inclusions of familial ALS-linked TDP-43 mutants in C-terminus. The relevance of RRM1-C/S-induced TDP-43 aggregates in ALS pathogenesis was verified by immunolabeling of inclusions of ALS patients and cultured cells overexpressing the RRM1-C/S TDP-43 with antibody targeting a misfolding-relevant regions. Our results indicate that cysteines in RRM1 crucially govern the conformation of TDP-43, and aberrant self-assembly of RRM1 at amyloidogenic regions contributes to pathogenic conversion of TDP-43 in ALS.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Amyloid, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Aggregate, Aggregate data, RNA splicing, Proteopathy


A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter 52-week phase 2 trial of resveratrol in individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease (AD) examined its safety and tolerability and effects on biomarker (plasma Aβ40 and Aβ42, CSF Aβ40, Aβ42, tau, and phospho-tau 181) and volumetric MRI outcomes (primary outcomes) and clinical outcomes (secondary outcomes).

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Clinical trial, Primary education, Mental status examination, Tauopathy, Proteopathy


Low-frequency magnetic fields (LF-MF) generated by power lines represent a potential environmental health risk and are classified as possibly carcinogenic by the World Health Organization. Epidemiological studies indicate that LF-MF might propagate neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We conducted a comprehensive analysis to determine whether long-term exposure to LF-MF (50 Hz, 1 mT) interferes with disease development in established mouse models for AD and ALS, namely APP23 mice and mice expressing mutant Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1), respectively. Exposure for 16 months did not aggravate learning deficit of APP23 mice. Likewise, disease onset and survival of SOD1(G85R) or SOD1(G93A) mice were not altered upon LF-MF exposure for ten or eight months, respectively. These results and an extended biochemical analysis of protein aggregation, glial activation and levels of toxic protein species suggests that LF-MF do not affect cellular processes involved in the pathogenesis of AD or ALS.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Superoxide dismutase, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Neurodegenerative disorders, SOD1, Proteopathy


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive memory deficits and other cognitive disturbances. Neuropathologically, AD is characterized by the progressive loss of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons that innervate the hippocampus and cortex and the abnormal extracellular accumulation of amyloid-β and intracellular tau protein. Current research on AD is focused on the mechanisms underlying the abnormal oligomerization, fibrillation, and accumulation of the amyloid-β and tau proteins, mechanisms that may alter the dynamics of this accumulation and on experimental therapeutics approaches aimed at the clearance of the abnormally folded proteins and other potentially neuroprotective interventions. This review will summarize the main areas of investigation in AD and present ways forward for future work.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Brain, Neurology, Acetylcholine, Tau protein, Basal forebrain, Tauopathy, Proteopathy


This review aims to address the temporal sequencing of involvement of amyloid-beta (Aβ) and tau in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and reconcile apparently conflicting neuropathologic and biomarker data.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Neurology, Beta amyloid, Apomorphine, Neuropathology, Alois Alzheimer, Proteopathy


This study was designed to test the interaction between amyloid-β and tau proteins as a determinant of metabolic decline in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We assessed 120 cognitively normal individuals with [(18)F]florbetapir positron emission tomography (PET) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) measurements at baseline, as well as [(18)F]fluorodeoxyglucose ([(18)F]FDG) PET at baseline and at 24 months. A voxel-based interaction model was built to test the associations between continuous measurements of CSF biomarkers, [(18)F]florbetapir and [(18)F]FDG standardized uptake value ratios (SUVR). We found that the synergistic interaction between [(18)F]florbetapir SUVR and CSF phosphorylated tau (p-tau) measurements, rather than the sum of their independent effects, was associated with a 24-month metabolic decline in basal and mesial temporal, orbitofrontal, and anterior and posterior cingulate cortices (P<0.001). In contrast, interactions using CSF amyloid-β1-42 and total tau biomarkers did not associate with metabolic decline over a time frame of 24 months. The interaction found in this study further support the framework that amyloid-β and hyperphosphorylated tau aggregates synergistically interact to cause downstream AD neurodegeneration. In fact, the regions displaying the metabolic decline reported here were confined to brain networks affected early by amyloid-β plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Preventive clinical trials may benefit from using a combination of amyloid-β PET and p-tau biomarkers to enrich study populations of cognitively normal subjects with a high probability of disease progression in studies, using [(18)F]FDG as a biomarker of efficacy.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 29 March 2016; doi:10.1038/mp.2016.37.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Clinical trial, Positron emission tomography, Interaction, Neurology, Cerebrospinal fluid, Neurofibrillary tangle, Proteopathy


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a tauopathy associated with prior exposure to repetitive head impacts, such as those incurred through American football and other collision sports. Diagnosis is made through neuropathological examination. Many of the clinical features of CTE are common in the general population, with and without a history of head impact exposure, making clinical diagnosis difficult. As is now common in the diagnosis of other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, there is a need for methods to diagnose CTE during life through objective biomarkers.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Greek loanwords, Neurology, Neurodegenerative disorders, Dementia, Tau protein, Tauopathy, Proteopathy


Accumulation of insoluble Tau protein aggregates and stereotypical propagation of Tau pathology through the brain are common hallmarks of tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Propagation of Tau pathology appears to occur along connected neurons, but whether synaptic contacts between neurons are facilitating propagation has not been demonstrated. Using quantitative in vitro models, we demonstrate that, in parallel to non-synaptic mechanisms, synapses, but not merely the close distance between the cells, enhance the propagation of Tau pathology between acceptor hippocampal neurons and Tau donor cells. Similarly, in an artificial neuronal network using microfluidic devices, synapses and synaptic activity are promoting neuronal Tau pathology propagation in parallel to the non-synaptic mechanisms. Our work indicates that the physical presence of synaptic contacts between neurons facilitate Tau pathology propagation. These findings can have implications for synaptic repair therapies, which may turn out to have adverse effects by promoting propagation of Tau pathology.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Nervous system, Neuron, Brain, Human brain, Tau protein, Tauopathy, Proteopathy


To analyze neurodegenerative causes of death, specifically Alzheimer disease (AD), Parkinson disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), among a cohort of professional football players.

Concepts: Neurology, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Neurodegenerative disorders, Parkinson's disease, American football, Jean-Martin Charcot, Proteopathy, National Football League


Abnormal tau metabolism followed by formation of tau deposits causes a number of neurodegenerative diseases called tauopathies including Alzheimer’s disease. Hyperphosphorylation of tau protein precedes tau aggregation and is a topic of interest for the development of pharmacological interventions to prevent pathology progression at early stages. The development of a mathematical model of multisite phosphorylation of tau would be helpful for searching for the targets of pharmacological interventions and candidates for biomarkers of pathology progression. In the present study, we for the first time developed a model of multisite phosphorylation of tau protein and elucidated the relative contribution of kinases to phosphorylation of distinct sites. The model describes phosphorylation of tau or PKA-prephosphorylated tau by GSK3β and CDK5 and dephosphorylation by PP2A, accurately reproducing the data for short-term kinetics of tau (de)phosphorylation. Our results suggest that kinase inhibition may more specifically prevent tau hyperphosphorylation, e.g., on PHF sites, which are key biomarkers of pathological changes in Alzheimer’s disease. The main features of our model are partial phosphorylation of tau residues and merging of random and sequential mechanisms of multisite phosphorylation within the framework of the probability-based approach assuming independent phosphorylation events.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Neurodegenerative disorders, Tau protein, Tauopathy, Proteopathy