The extracellular chaperone Clusterin enhances Tau aggregate seeding in a cellular model

Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 11;12(1):4863. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25060-1.


Spreading of aggregate pathology across brain regions acts as a driver of disease progression in Tau-related neurodegeneration, including Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia. Aggregate seeds released from affected cells are internalized by naïve cells and induce the prion-like templating of soluble Tau into neurotoxic aggregates. Here we show in a cellular model system and in neurons that Clusterin, an abundant extracellular chaperone, strongly enhances Tau aggregate seeding. Upon interaction with Tau aggregates, Clusterin stabilizes highly potent, soluble seed species. Tau/Clusterin complexes enter recipient cells via endocytosis and compromise the endolysosomal compartment, allowing transfer to the cytosol where they propagate aggregation of endogenous Tau. Thus, upregulation of Clusterin, as observed in AD patients, may enhance Tau seeding and possibly accelerate the spreading of Tau pathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clusterin / genetics
  • Clusterin / metabolism*
  • Disease Progression
  • Endocytosis
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Protein Aggregation, Pathological / metabolism*
  • Protein Aggregation, Pathological / pathology
  • Protein Binding
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • CLU protein, human
  • Clusterin
  • MAPT protein, human
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • tau Proteins