Somatic gene transfer using a recombinant adenoviral vector (RAAV9) encoding pseudophosphorylated human Thr175 tau in adult rat hippocampus induces tau pathology
Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
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Aberrant phosphorylation of the microtubule associated protein tau (tau) is associated with multiple neurodegenerative diseases where it is a contributes to neurotoxicity. We have observed that phosphorylation at Thr175 tau (pThr175 tau) exerts toxicity when expressed as a pseudophosphorylated tau construct (Thr175Asp) in vitro. To determine whether pThr175 tau can induce tau pathology in vivo with an accompanying clinical phenotype, we used a recombinant adenoviral expression vector (rAAV9) to express a GFP-tagged Thr175Asp tau protein construct in adult female Sprague-Dawley rat hippocampus. Ten rats per group were injected with rAAV9 vectors encoding either GFP, wild type GFP-tagged tau protein, Thr175Ala tau or Thr175Asp tau. 12 months postinjection, all rats were investigated by immunohistochemistry for GFP (extent of vector expression), pThr231 tau protein, activated GSK3b, and caspase-3 cleavage. Vector expression was primarily localized to hippocampal CA2 subregion. Tau protein pathology restricted to the CA2 region in the form of axonal beading, fibrils, and neurofibrillary tangles was observed in Thr175Asp tau inoculated brains and included colocalization with pThr231 tau and caspase-3 cleavage in this group only. Although no behavioral or imaging phenotype was observed, our results demonstrate that pThr175 tau protein is capable of exerting neuronal toxicity in vivo.