MAPT  expression and splicing is differentially regulated by brain region: relation to genotype and implication for tauopathies

Daniah Trabzuni, Selina Wray, Jana Vandrovcova, Adaikalavan Ramasamy, Robert Walker, Colin Smith, Connie Luk, J. Raphael Gibbs, Allissa Dillman, Dena G. Hernandez, Sampath Arepalli, Andrew B. Singleton, Mark R. Cookson, Alan M. Pittman, Rohan de Silva, Michael E. Weale, John Hardy, Mina Ryten*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The MAPT (microtubule-associated protein tau) locus is one of the most remarkable in neurogenetics due not only to its involvement in multiple neurodegenerative disorders, including progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, Parksinson's disease and possibly Alzheimer's disease, but also due its genetic evolution and complex alternative splicing features which are, to some extent, linked and so all the more intriguing. Therefore, obtaining robust information regarding the expression, splicing and genetic regulation of this gene within the human brain is of immense importance. In this study, we used 2011 brain samples originating from 439 individuals to provide the most reliable and coherent information on the regional expression, splicing and regulation of MAPT available to date. We found significant regional variation in mRNA expression and splicing of MAPT within the human brain. Furthermore, at the gene level, the regional distribution of mRNA expression and total tau protein expression levels were largely in agreement, appearing to be highly correlated. Finally and most importantly, we show that while the reported H1/H2 association with gene level expression is likely to be due to a technical artefact, this polymorphism is associated with the expression of exon 3-containing isoforms in human brain. These findings would suggest that contrary to the prevailing view, genetic risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases at the MAPT locus are likely to operate by changing mRNA splicing in different brain regions, as opposed to the overall expression of the MAPT gene.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4094-4103
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2012




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