TitleMechanistic and Structural Origins of the Asymmetric Barrier to Prion-like Cross-Seeding between Tau-3R and Tau-4R.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsKumar H, Udgaonkar JB
JournalJ Mol Biol
Date Published2018 Sep 26

The spread and deposition of infectious fibrillar protein aggregates in the brain via a prion-like mechanism, is a critical component in the patho-physiology of various neurodegenerative diseases, including the tauopathies. In tauopathies, two isoforms of tau, containing three and four microtubule binding repeats (MTBRs), are found to aggregate, and the type of isoform present in aggregates, determines the type of tauopathy. Cross-seeding between the two tau isoforms is limited by an asymmetric barrier, similar to the species barrier that restricts prion transmission across species, whose origin has remained unclear. In this study, the growth of the tau fibrils is shown to be describable by a two-step Michaelis-Menten-like model. Delineation of the mechanism as a Michaelis-Menten-like mechanism has enabled a quantitative understanding of the asymmetric seeding barrier that exists between two isoforms of tau, tau-K18 and tau-K19 (which differ in containing four and three MTBRs, respectively), wherein tau-K18 fibrils cannot seed tau-K19 monomer. Furthermore, high-resolution structural analysis of the two isoforms shows that the structural core is more ordered in tau-K19 than in tau-K18. Hence, the current work provides kinetic and structural rationales for asymmetric seeding barriers in general, and for the two tau isoforms in particular.

Alternate JournalJ. Mol. Biol.
PubMed ID30267747