Reduced progranulin increases tau and α-synuclein inclusions and alters phenotypes of tauopathy mice via glucocerebrosidase

Kavli Affiliate: Stephen Strittmatter

| Authors: Hideyuki Takahashi, Sanaea Bhagwagar, Sarah H. Nies, Marius T. Chiasseu, Guilin Wang, Ian R. Mackenzie and Stephen M. Strittmatter

| Summary:

Comorbid proteinopathies are observed in many neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), increase with age, and influence clinical outcomes, yet the mechanisms remain ill-defined. Here, we show that reduction of progranulin (PGRN), a lysosomal protein associated with TDP-43 proteinopathy, also increases tau inclusions, causes concomitant accumulation of α-synuclein and worsens mortality and disinhibited behaviors in tauopathy mice. The increased inclusions paradoxically protect against spatial memory deficit and hippocampal neurodegeneration. PGRN reduction with tau pathology attenuates activity of β-glucocerebrosidase (GCase), a protein previously associated with synucleinopathy, while increasing glucosylceramide (GlcCer)-positive tau inclusions. In neuronal culture, GCase inhibition enhances tau aggregation induced by AD-tau. Furthermore, purified GlcCer directly promotes tau aggregation in vitro. Neurofibrillary tangles in human tauopathies are also GlcCer-immunoreactive. Thus, in addition to TDP-43, PGRN regulates tau- and synucleinopathies via GCase and GlcCer. A lysosomal PGRN–GCase pathway may be a common therapeutic target for age-related comorbid proteinopathies.

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