Calcium dysregulation contributes to neurodegeneration in FTLD patient iPSC-derived neurons

Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 10;6:34904. doi: 10.1038/srep34904.


Mutations in the gene MAPT encoding tau, a microtubules-associated protein, cause a subtype of familial neurodegenerative disorder, known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration tauopathy (FTLD-Tau), which presents with dementia and is characterized by atrophy in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Although induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology has facilitated the investigation of phenotypes of FTLD-Tau patient neuronal cells in vitro, it remains unclear how FTLD-Tau patient neurons degenerate. Here, we established neuronal models of FTLD-Tau by Neurogenin2-induced direct neuronal differentiation from FTLD-Tau patient iPSCs. We found that FTLD-Tau neurons, either with an intronic MAPT mutation or with an exonic mutation, developed accumulation and extracellular release of misfolded tau followed by neuronal death, which we confirmed by correction of the intronic mutation with CRISPR/Cas9. FTLD-Tau neurons showed dysregulation of the augmentation of Ca2+ transients evoked by electrical stimulation. Chemogenetic or pharmacological control of neuronal activity-relevant Ca2+ influx by the introduction of designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) or by the treatment with glutamate receptor blockers attenuated misfolded tau accumulation and neuronal death. These data suggest that neuronal activity may regulate neurodegeneration in tauopathy. This FTLD-Tau model provides mechanistic insights into tauopathy pathogenesis and potential avenues for treatments.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Protein Folding
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • MAPT protein, human
  • tau Proteins
  • Calcium