Tau: Enabler of diverse brain disorders and target of rapidly evolving therapeutic strategies

Science. 2021 Feb 26;371(6532):eabb8255. doi: 10.1126/science.abb8255.


Several lines of evidence implicate the protein tau in the pathogenesis of multiple brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, other neurodegenerative conditions, autism, and epilepsy. Tau is abundant in neurons and interacts with microtubules, but its main functions in the brain remain to be defined. These functions may involve the regulation of signaling pathways relevant to diverse biological processes. Informative disease models have revealed a plethora of abnormal tau species and mechanisms that might contribute to neuronal dysfunction and loss, but the relative importance of their respective contributions is uncertain. This knowledge gap poses major obstacles to the development of truly impactful therapeutic strategies. The current expansion and intensification of efforts to translate mechanistic insights into tau-related therapeutics should address this issue and could deliver better treatments for a host of devastating conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism*
  • Brain Diseases / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Tauopathies / metabolism*
  • Tauopathies / therapy*
  • tau Proteins / chemistry
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • MAPT protein, human
  • tau Proteins