Neuronal degeneration, synaptic defects, and behavioral abnormalities in tau45-230 transgenic mice

A. E. Lang, D. N. Riherd Methner, A. Ferreira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The complement of mechanisms underlying tau pathology in neurodegenerative disorders has yet to be elucidated. Among these mechanisms, abnormal tau phosphorylation has received the most attention because neurofibrillary tangles present in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related disorders known as tauopathies are composed of hyperphosphorylated forms of this microtubule-associated protein. More recently, we showed that calpain-mediated cleavage leading to the generation of the 17kDa tau45-230 fragment is a conserved mechanism in these diseases. To obtain insights into the role of this fragment in neurodegeneration, we generated transgenic mice that express tau45-230 and characterized their phenotype. Our results showed a significant increase in cell death in the hippocampal pyramidal cell layer of transgenic tau45-230 mice when compared to wild-type controls. In addition, significant synapse loss was detected as early as six months after birth in transgenic hippocampal neurons. These synaptic changes were accompanied by alterations in the expression of the N-methyl-d-aspartate glutamate (NMDA) receptor subunits. Furthermore, functional abnormalities were detected in the transgenic mice using Morris Water Maze and fear conditioning tests. These results suggest that the accumulation of tau45-230 is responsible, at least in part, for neuronal degeneration and some behavioral changes in AD and other tauopathies. Collectively, these data provide the first direct evidence of the toxic effects of a tau fragment biologically produced in the context of these diseases in vertebrate neurons that develop in situ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-339
Number of pages18
StatePublished - Sep 5 2014


  • Calpain
  • Cell death
  • NMDA receptors
  • Neurite degeneration
  • Synapse loss
  • Tau cleavage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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