Human Stem Cell-Derived Neurons: A System to Study Human Tau Function and Dysfunction

Mariangela Iovino, Rickie Patani, Colin Watts, Siddharthan Chandran, Maria Grazia Spillantini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Intracellular filamentous deposits containing microtubule-associated protein tau constitute a defining characteristic of many neurodegenerative disorders. Current experimental models to study tau pathology in vitro do not usually recapitulate the tau expression pattern characteristic of adult human brain. In this study, we have investigated whether human embryonic stem cell-derived neurons could be a good model to study human tau distribution, function and dysfunction.

Methodology/Principal Findings: Using RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, western blotting and cell transfections we have investigated whether all 6 adult human brain tau isoforms are expressed in neurons derived from human embryonic and fetal stem cells and whether 4 repeat tau over-expression alone, or with the F3 tau repeat fragment, (amino acid 258-380 of the 2N4R tau isoform with the Delta K280 mutation) affects tau distribution. We found that the shortest 3 repeat tau isoform, similarly to human brain, is the first to be expressed during neuronal differentiation while the other 5 tau isoforms are expressed later. Over expression of tau with 4 repeats affects tau cellular distribution and the short tau F3 fragment appears to increase tau phosphorylation but this effect does not appear to be toxic for the cell.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that human embryonic stem cell-derived neurons express all 6 tau isoforms and are a good model in which to study tau physiology and pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13947
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2010


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