Expression of A152T human tau causes age-dependent neuronal dysfunction and loss in transgenic mice

EMBO Rep. 2016 Apr;17(4):530-51. doi: 10.15252/embr.201541438. Epub 2016 Mar 1.


A152T-variant human tau (hTau-A152T) increases risk for tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease. Comparing mice with regulatable expression of hTau-A152T or wild-type hTau (hTau-WT), we find age-dependent neuronal loss, cognitive impairments, and spontaneous nonconvulsive epileptiform activity primarily in hTau-A152T mice. However, overexpression of either hTau species enhances neuronal responses to electrical stimulation of synaptic inputs and to an epileptogenic chemical. hTau-A152T mice have higher hTau protein/mRNA ratios in brain, suggesting that A152T increases production or decreases clearance of hTau protein. Despite their functional abnormalities, aging hTau-A152T mice show no evidence for accumulation of insoluble tau aggregates, suggesting that their dysfunctions are caused by soluble tau. In human amyloid precursor protein (hAPP) transgenic mice, co-expression of hTau-A152T enhances risk of early death and epileptic activity, suggesting copathogenic interactions between hTau-A152T and amyloid-β peptides or other hAPP metabolites. Thus, the A152T substitution may augment risk for neurodegenerative diseases by increasing hTau protein levels, promoting network hyperexcitability, and synergizing with the adverse effects of other pathogenic factors.

Keywords: A152T; Alzheimer's disease; frontotemporal dementia; hyperexcitability; tau.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Tauopathies / genetics
  • Tauopathies / physiopathology
  • tau Proteins / chemistry
  • tau Proteins / genetics*
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • tau Proteins