Tau interactome and RNA binding proteins in neurodegenerative diseases

Mol Neurodegener. 2022 Oct 17;17(1):66. doi: 10.1186/s13024-022-00572-6.


Pathological tau aggregation is a primary neuropathological feature of many neurodegenerative diseases. Intriguingly, despite the common presence of tau aggregates in these diseases the affected brain regions, clinical symptoms, and morphology, conformation, and isoform ratio present in tau aggregates varies widely. The tau-mediated disease mechanisms that drive neurodegenerative disease are still unknown. Tau interactome studies are critically important for understanding tauopathy. They reveal the interacting partners that define disease pathways, and the tau interactions present in neuropathological aggregates provide potential insight into the cellular environment and protein interactions present during pathological tau aggregation. Here we provide a combined analysis of 12 tau interactome studies of human brain tissue, human cell culture models and rodent models of disease. Together, these studies identified 2084 proteins that interact with tau in human tissue and 1152 proteins that interact with tau in rodent models of disease. Our combined analysis of the tau interactome revealed consistent enrichment of interactions between tau and proteins involved in RNA binding, ribosome, and proteasome function. Comparison of human and rodent tau interactome studies revealed substantial differences between the two species. We also performed a second analysis to identify the tau interacting proteins that are enriched in neurons containing granulovacuolar degeneration or neurofibrillary tangle pathology. These results revealed a timed dysregulation of tau interactions as pathology develops. RNA binding proteins, particularly HNRNPs, emerged as early disease-associated tau interactors and therefore may have an important role in driving tau pathology.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Frontotemporal dementia; HNRNP; Interactome; Neurofibrillary tangle; Protein–protein interactions; RNA binding proteins; Tau; Tauopathy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases* / metabolism
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / metabolism
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Tauopathies* / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • tau Proteins
  • RNA
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex