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Nuebling, Georg; Bader, Benedikt; Levin, Johannes; Hildebrandt, Jenna; Kretzschmar, Hans; Giese, Armin: Synergistic influence of phosphorylation and metal ions on tau oligomer formation and coaggregation with alpha-synuclein at the single molecule level. In: Molecular Neurodegeneration 2012, 7:35
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Abstract

Background: Fibrillar amyloid-like deposits and co-deposits of tau and alpha-synuclein are found in several common neurodegenerative diseases. Recent evidence indicates that small oligomers are the most relevant toxic aggregate species. While tau fibril formation is well-characterized, factors influencing tau oligomerization and molecular interactions of tau and alpha-synuclein are not well understood. Results: We used a novel approach applying confocal single-particle fluorescence to investigate the influence of tau phosphorylation and metal ions on tau oligomer formation and its coaggregation with alpha-synuclein at the level of individual oligomers. We show that Al3+ at physiologically relevant concentrations and tau phosphorylation by GSK-3 beta exert synergistic effects on the formation of a distinct SDS-resistant tau oligomer species even at nanomolar protein concentration. Moreover, tau phosphorylation and Al3+ as well as Fe3+ enhanced both formation of mixed oligomers and recruitment of alpha-synuclein in pre-formed tau oligomers. Conclusions: Our findings provide a new perspective on interactions of tau phosphorylation, metal ions, and the formation of potentially toxic oligomer species, and elucidate molecular crosstalks between different aggregation pathways involved in neurodegeneration.