A major driver of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the accumulation of the protein tau that travels through the human brain in a constant pattern. Tau molecules become misshapen and aggregate in AD, though no one has yet identified how, or even if, these tau accumulations result in neuronal death. In this research, we have developed a fluorescent tool that will allow us to watch tau collect in neurons both in cell culture as well as the living adult mouse brain. Using this tool, this research aims to observe directly, in real time, what happens once a neuron develops a tau aggregate, as well as to study which genes increase or decrease in a neuron once it develops one of these tau accumulations. Together, these data will help us better understand the immediate changes that occur in adult neurons when they develop AD-like tau accumulations and may help identify new druggable pathways involved in the development of AD in human patients.
Note: This grant was terminated by the investigator in February of 2018 when she left Harvard University for an industry position.