Tau Oligomers and Their Potential Role in Toxicity Leading to Alzheimer's Disease
Secondly, Dr. Binder’s team is investigating whether all tau oligomers are toxic. Following purification of oligomers, the team will use a special test, called the cell viability assay, to monitor for cell death. This will be extended further, with toxicity testing also being carried out by collaborators at Woods Hole, MA. This will allow the team to investigate if these oligomers are having an effect on an internal nerve cell protein transport process called Fast Axonal Transport (FAT), since inhibition of FAT is a hallmark of AD.
Recently tau oligomers have gained a lot of attention, and Dr. Binder’s team possesses unique tools—the TOC1 and TNT1 antibodies—that could be used for high-throughput screens for drugs, peptides, or small molecule compounds which could prevent oligomerization of the tau protein, and prevent unmasking of the PAD domain, thereby alleviating toxicity. Prevention of these abnormal changes in tau could inhibit the signaling cascade that leads to defects in FAT in patients with tauopathies (diseases like AD, CBD, and PSP).
Dr. Binder’s team strongly believes that tau oligomers are the toxic tau species thought to be responsible for the neurodegeneration found in many tauopathies. Although oligomers formed in each of the numerous tauopathies are likely somewhat diverse in structure, the team’s TOC1 antibody has thus far recognized tau oligomers in AD, PSP, CBD, and Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE, as can be found in the brains of NFL players). The proposed studies should give clues as to the conformation of the toxic aggregate and its region of toxicity.
About the Researcher
Dr. Binder just accepted the position of Professor of Translational Science & Molecular Medicine and Research Director in the Division of Clinical Neurosciences in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University. Here he is charged with building an Alzheimer’s Disease Research Group as well as a group of Physician Scientists who work on neurodegenerative diseases. Previous to this, Dr. Binder was Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology and held the Abbott Labs/Burnham Chair in Genetic and Molecular Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Previous to this, he held positions in a biotechnology company and was on faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. His laboratory has always worked on the neuronal protein, tau, which forms the neurofibrillary tangles in the brains of patients with AD but also is involved in frontotemporal dementias as well as traumatic brain injuries suffered by NFL football players and soldiers.
First published on: Monday, July 1, 2013
Last modified on: Thursday, June 20, 2013