A Powerful Yeast Model to Investigate the Synergistic Interaction of α-Synuclein and Tau in Neurodegeneration

Ciaccioli, Gianmario; Martins, Ana; Rodrigues, Cátia; Vieira, Helena; Calado, Patrícia
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Several studies revealed consistent overlap between synucleinopathies and tauopathies, demonstrating that α-synuclein (ASYN) and tau co-localize in neurofibrillary tangles and in Lewy bodies from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease patients and corresponding animal models. Additionally, it has been shown that ASYN can act as an initiator of tau aggregation and phosphorylation and that these two proteins directly interact. Despite these evidences, the cellular pathway implicated in this synergistic interaction remains to be clarified. The aim of this study was to create a yeast model where the concomitant expression of ASYN and tau can be used to perform genome wide screenings for the identification of genes that modulate this interaction, in order to shed light into the pathological mechanism of cell dysfunction and to provide new targets for future therapeutic intervention. We started by validating the synergistic toxicity of tau and ASYN co-expression in yeast, by developing episomal and integrative strains expressing WT and mutant forms of both proteins, alone or in combination. The episomal strains showed no differences in growth delay upon expression of ASYN isoforms (WT or A53T) alone or in combination with tau 2N/4R isoforms (WT or P301L). However, in these strains, the presence of ASYN led to increased tau insolubility and correlated with increased tau phosphorylation in S396/404, which is mainly mediated by RIM11, the human homolog of GSK3β in yeast. On the other hand, the integrative strains showed a strong synergistic toxic effect upon co-expression of ASYN WT and tau WT, which was related to high levels of intracellular ASYN inclusions and increased tau phosphorylation and aggregation. Taken together, the strains described in the present study are able to mimic relevant pathogenic features involved in neurodegeneration and are powerful tools to identify potential target genes able to modulate the synergistic pathway driven by ASYN and tau interaction.


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