Chaperoning of specific tau structure by immunophilin FKBP12 regulates the neuronal resilience to extracellular stress

Sci Adv. 2023 Feb 3;9(5):eadd9789. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.add9789. Epub 2023 Feb 1.


Alzheimer's disease and related tauopathies are characterized by the pathogenic misfolding and aggregation of the microtubule-associated protein tau. Understanding how endogenous chaperones modulate tau misfolding could guide future therapies. Here, we show that the immunophilin FKBP12, the 12-kDa FK506-binding protein (also known as FKBP prolyl isomerase 1A), regulates the neuronal resilience by chaperoning a specific structure in monomeric tau. Using a combination of mouse and cell experiments, in vitro aggregation experiments, nuclear magnetic resonance-based structural analysis of monomeric tau, site-specific phosphorylation and mutation, as well as structure-based analysis using the neural network-based structure prediction program AlphaFold, we define the molecular factors that govern the binding of FKBP12 to tau and its influence on tau-induced neurotoxicity. We further demonstrate that tyrosine phosphorylation of tau blocks the binding of FKBP12 to two highly specific structural motifs in tau. Our data together with previous results demonstrating FKBP12/tau colocalization in neurons and neurofibrillary tangles support a critical role of FKBP12 in regulating tau pathology.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Tacrolimus Binding Protein 1A / metabolism
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Tauopathies* / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Tacrolimus Binding Protein 1A
  • tau Proteins
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones