Hyperphosphorylation and deposition of tau in the brain characterizes frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Disease-associated mutations in the tau-encoding MAPT gene have enabled the generation of transgenic mouse models that recapitulate aspects of human neurodegenerative diseases, including tau hyperphosphorylation and neurofibrillary tangle formation. Here, we characterized the effects of transgenic P301S mutant human tau expression on neuronal network function in the murine hippocampus. Onset of progressive spatial learning deficits in P301S tau transgenic TAU58/2 mice were paralleled by long-term potentiation deficits and neuronal network aberrations during electrophysiological and EEG recordings. Gene-expression profiling just prior to onset of apparent deficits in TAU58/2 mice revealed a signature of immediate early genes that is consistent with neuronal network hypersynchronicity. We found that the increased immediate early gene activity was confined to neurons harbouring tau pathology, providing a cellular link between aberrant tau and network dysfunction. Taken together, our data suggest that tau pathology drives neuronal network dysfunction through hyperexcitation of individual, pathology-harbouring neurons, thereby contributing to memory deficits.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; frontotemporal dementia; memory; neurodegeneration; tau.
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