An In Vitro Model for Studying Tau Aggregation Using Lentiviral-mediated Transduction of Human Neurons.


Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego; [Email]


Aberrant aggregation of the protein tau is pathogenically involved in a number of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although mouse models of tauopathy have provided a valuable resource for investigating the neurotoxic mechanisms of aggregated tau, it is becoming increasingly apparent that, due to interspecies differences in neurophysiology, the mouse brain is unsuitable for modeling the human condition. Advances in cell culture methods have made human neuronal cultures accessible for experimental use in vitro and have aided in the development of neurotherapeutics. However, despite the adaptation of human neuronal cell cultures, in vitro models of human tauopathy are not yet widely available. This protocol describes a cellular model of tau aggregation in which human neurons are transduced with lentiviral-derived vectors that code for pathogenically mutated tau fused to a yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) reporter. Transduced cultures produce tau aggregates that stain positively for thioflavin and display markers of neurotoxicity, such as decreased axonal length and increased lysosomal volume. This procedure may be a useful and cost-effective model for studying human tauopathies.

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