SIRT1 Deacetylates Tau and Reduces Pathogenic Tau Spread in a Mouse Model of Tauopathy

J Neurosci. 2018 Apr 11;38(15):3680-3688. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2369-17.2018. Epub 2018 Mar 14.


Hyperacetylation of tau has been implicated in neurodegeneration and cognitive decline in tauopathy brains. The nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide-dependent class-III protein deacetylase SIRT1 is one of the major enzymes involved in removal of acetyl groups from tau in vitro However, whether SIRT1 regulates acetylation of pathogenic tau and ameliorates tau-mediated pathogenesis remains unclear. Here, we report deacetylating activity of SIRT1 for acetylated Lys174 (K174) of tau in tauP301S transgenic mice with a brain-specific SIRT1 deletion. We show that SIRT1 deficiency leads to exacerbation of premature mortality, synapse loss, and behavioral disinhibition in tauP301S transgenic mice of both sexes. By contrast, SIRT1 overexpression by stereotaxic delivery of adeno-associated virus that encodes SIRT1 into the hippocampus reduces acetylated K174 tau. Furthermore, SIRT1 overexpression significantly attenuates the spread of tau pathology into anatomically connected brain regions of tauP301S transgenic mice of both sexes. These findings suggest the functional importance of SIRT1 in regulating pathogenic tau acetylation and in suppressing the spread of tau pathology in vivoSIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT In neurodegenerative disorders with inclusions of microtubule-associated protein tau, aberrant lysine acetylation of tau plays critical roles in promoting tau accumulation and toxicity. Identifying strategies to deacetylate tau could interfere with disease progression; however, little is known about how pathogenic tau is deacetylated in vivo Here we show that the protein deacetylase SIRT1 reduces tau acetylation in a mouse model of neurodegeneration. SIRT1 deficiency in the brain aggravates synapse loss and behavioral disinhibition, and SIRT1 overexpression ameliorates propagation of tau pathology.

Keywords: SIRT1; acetylation; dementia; tau; tau spread.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Female
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maze Learning
  • Mice
  • Sirtuin 1 / genetics
  • Sirtuin 1 / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Tauopathies / metabolism*
  • Tauopathies / pathology
  • Tauopathies / physiopathology
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • Mapt protein, mouse
  • tau Proteins
  • Sirt1 protein, mouse
  • Sirtuin 1