Kinetic Ensemble of Tau Protein through the Markov State Model and Deep Learning Analysis

J Chem Theory Comput. 2024 Apr 9;20(7):2947-2958. doi: 10.1021/acs.jctc.3c01211. Epub 2024 Mar 19.


The ordered assembly of Tau protein into filaments characterizes Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases, and thus, stabilization of Tau protein is a promising avenue for tauopathies therapy. To dissect the underlying aggregation mechanisms on Tau, we employ a set of molecular simulations and the Markov state model to determine the kinetics of ensemble of K18. K18 is the microtubule-binding domain of Tau protein and plays a vital role in the microtubule assembly, recycling processes, and amyloid fibril formation. Here, we efficiently explore the conformation of K18 with about 150 μs lifetimes in silico. Our results observe that all four repeat regions (R1-R4) are very dynamic, featuring frequent conformational conversion and lacking stable conformations, and the R2 region is more flexible than the R1, R3, and R4 regions. Additionally, it is worth noting that residues 300-310 in R2-R3 and residues 319-336 in R3 tend to form sheet structures, indicating that K18 has a broader functional role than individual repeat monomers. Finally, the simulations combined with Markov state models and deep learning reveal 5 key conformational states along the transition pathway and provide the information on the microsecond time scale interstate transition rates. Overall, this study offers significant insights into the molecular mechanism of Tau pathological aggregation and develops novel strategies for both securing tauopathies and advancing drug discovery.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Deep Learning*
  • Humans
  • Melphalan*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Tauopathies*
  • gamma-Globulins*
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • tau Proteins
  • K-18 conjugate
  • gamma-Globulins
  • Melphalan