Project DetailsAlzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly, causing gradual memory impairment. What is the culprit for this gradual memory impairment then? The brain is composed of many living units, which are called neurons. Each neuron contains hundreds or thousands of tiny apparatus that are called dendritic spines. If the brain is a computer, and then these dendritic spines serve as numerous storage units like the hard drive or Compact Disc (CD) of typical computers. Two main culprits for the memory loss in AD are two types of proteins: amyloid beta and tau. The co-PI, Dr. Karen Hsiao Ashe, a famous AD scientist, has previously found that a very small change in tau proteins (changing one amino acid from Proline to Leucine) can cause profound memory deficits. In our preliminary studies, we found that this tiny change in the amino acids of tau proteins can drive tau proteins to dendritic spines (right to the memory storage units of the brain!). The proposed project will focus on finding out why these unwelcome guests (tau proteins) frequently go to dendritic spines in AD and how much damage these unwelcome guests can cause. By understanding why, we might be able to develop a novel drug for treating AD by finding a way to block these unwelcome guests from entering our privileged house, the dendritic spine.