, Volume 17, Issue 10, pp 1039-1049
Date: 17 Jul 2012

Expression of the hyperphosphorylated tau attenuates ER stress-induced apoptosis with upregulation of unfolded protein response

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The neural dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) could arise from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and deficits of the unfolded protein response (UPR). To explore whether tau hyperphosphorylation, a hallmark of AD brain pathologies, plays a role in ER stress-induced alterations of cell viability, we established cell lines with stable expression of human tau (HEK293/tau) or the vector (HEK293/vec) and treated the cells with thapsigargin (TG), an ER stress inducer. We observed that the HEK293/tau cells were more resistant than the HEK293/vec cells to the TG-induced apoptosis, importantly, a time dependent increase of tau phosphorylation at Thr205 and Thr231 sites was positively correlated with the inhibition of apoptosis. We also observed that expression of tau upregulated phosphorylation of PERK, eIF2 and IRE1 with an increased cleavage of ATF6 and ATF4. The potentiation of UPR was also detected in HEK293/tau cells treated with other ER stress inducers, including staurosporine, camptothecin and hydrogen peroxide, in which a suppressed apoptosis was also shown. Our data suggest that tau hyperphosphorylation could attenuate the ER stress-induced apoptosis with the mechanism involving upregulation of UPR system.