Fragmentation of the Golgi apparatus induced by the overexpression of wild-type and mutant human tau forms in neurons

Am J Pathol. 2005 May;166(5):1499-514. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)62366-8.


Tau is a microtubule-associated protein enriched in the axonal compartment. In several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease, hyperphosphorylated tau accumulates in the somatodendritic compartment, self-aggregates, and forms neurofibrillary tangles. A fragmentation of the neuronal Golgi apparatus (GA) was also observed in Alzheimer's disease. In the present study, we examined the effect of overexpressing human tau on the organization of the neuronal GA in rat hippocampal cultures and in JNPL3 mice expressing tau mutant P301L. GA fragmentation was noted in a significantly higher percentage of hippocampal neurons overexpressing wild-type human tau than in control neurons over-expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) alone. Most importantly, in neurons overexpressing mutant forms of human tau (P301L, V337M, or R406W), the percentage of neurons with a fragmented GA was 10% higher than that of neurons overexpressing wild-type human tau. In JNPL3 mice, a significantly higher percentage of motor neurons presented a fragmented GA compared to control mice. Interestingly, fragmentation of the GA was more frequent in neurons containing an accumulation and aggregation of hyperphosphorylated tau in the cell body than in neurons without these features. In both primary hippocampal neurons and JNPL3 mice, the tau-induced GA fragmentation was not caused by apoptosis. The pre-sent results implicate tau in GA fragmentation and show that this event occurs before the formation of neurofibrillary tangles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Golgi Apparatus / drug effects*
  • Golgi Apparatus / ultrastructure*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Rats
  • Transfection
  • tau Proteins / genetics*
  • tau Proteins / pharmacology*


  • tau Proteins