Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Binding of Metal-Ion-Induced Tau Oligomers to Lipid Surfaces Is Enhanced by GSK-3β-Mediated Phosphorylation

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2020 Mar 18;11(6):880-887

Authors/Editors: Georg S Nuebling
Eva Plesch
Viktoria C Ruf
Tobias Högen
Stefan Lorenzl
Frits Kamp
Armin Giese
Johannes Levin
Publication Date: 2020
Type of Publication: Journal Article

While fibrillar deposits of hyperphosphorylated protein tau are a key hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, small oligomers have been speculated to be the key toxic aggregate species. Trivalent metal ions were shown to promote tau oligomer formation in vitro. However, little is known about potential intercellular spreading mechanisms or toxic modes of action of such oligomers. We investigated interactions of tau monomers and Fe3+/Al3+-induced oligomers with small unilamellar vesicles derived from 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-phosphatidylcholine (neutral, liquid-crystalline phase) and dipalmitoyl-phosphatidylcholine (neutral, gel-phase). We further evaluated the influence of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β)-mediated tau phosphorylation applying the single-particle fluorescence spectroscopy techniques fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, fluorescence intensity distribution analysis, and scanning for intensely fluorescent targets. In these experiments, no binding to neutral lipid surfaces was observed for tau monomers. In contrast, metal-ion-induced tau oligomers showed a gain of function in binding to neutral lipid surfaces. Of note, tau phosphorylation by GSK-3β increased both oligomer formation and membrane affinity of the resulting oligomers. In conclusion, our data imply a pathological gain of function of metal-ion-induced oligomers of hyperphosphorylated tau, enabling membrane binding irrespective of surface charge even at nanomolar protein concentrations.

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