Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 593–602 | Cite as

The Co-chaperone BAG2 Mediates Cold-Induced Accumulation of Phosphorylated Tau in SH-SY5Y Cells

  • Cesar Augusto Dias de Paula
  • Fernando Enrique Santiago
  • Adriele Silva Alves de Oliveira
  • Fernando Augusto Oliveira
  • Maria Camila Almeida
  • Daniel Carneiro CarrettieroEmail author
Original Research


Inclusions of phosphorylated tau (p-tau) are a hallmark of many neurodegenerative disorders classified as “tauopathy,” of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form. Dysregulation of tau phosphorylation disrupts neuron structure and function, and hyperphosphorylated tau aggregates to form neurotoxic inclusions. The abundance of ubiquitin in tau inclusions suggests a defect in ubiquitin-mediated tau protein degradation by the proteasome. Under the temperature of 37 °C, the co-chaperone BAG2 protein targets phosphorylated tau for degradation via by a more-efficient, ubiquitin-independent pathway. In both in vivo and in vitro studies, cold exposure induces the accumulation of phosphorylated tau protein. The SH-SY5Y cell line differentiates into neuron-like cells on treatment with retinoic acid and is an established model for research on the effects of cold on tau phosphorylation. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether BAG2 mediates the cold-induced accumulation of phosphorylated tau protein. Our findings show that cold exposure causes a decrease in BAG2 expression in undifferentiated cells. Conversely, BAG2 expression is increased in differentiated cells exposed to cold. Further, undifferentiated cells exposed to cold had an increased proportion of p-tau to total tau, suggesting an accumulation of p-tau that is consistent with decreased levels of BAG2. Overexpression of BAG2 in cold-exposed undifferentiated cells restored levels of p-tau to those of 37 °C undifferentiated control. Interestingly, although BAG2 expression increased in differentiated cells, this increase was not accompanied by a decrease in the proportion of p-tau to total tau. Further, overexpression of BAG2 in cold exposed differentiated cells showed no significant difference in p-tau levels compared to 37 °C controls. Taken together, these data show that expression of BAG2 is differently regulated in a differentiation-dependent context. Our results suggest that repression of BAG2 expression or BAG2 activity by cold-sensitive pathways, as modeled in undifferentiated and differentiated cells, respectively, may be a causal factor in the accumulation of cytotoxic hyperphosphorylated tau protein via restriction of BAG2-mediated clearance of cellular p-tau.


Temperature Cold exposure Hypothermia Differentiation Cell Tauopathy Alzheimer’s disease 



The authors with to acknowledge extramural financial support provided by FAPESP (Grant, 2009/11446-4, 2011/06528-1 and 2012/50336-2) and CNPq (449102/2014-9) as well as financial support from CAPES and UFABC intramural funds.

Authors’ Contributions

C. A. D. P., M. C. A. and D. C. C. contributed to design of experiments. C. A. D. P., F. E. S., A. S. A. O., and F. A. O. performed experiments. Analysis of experimental data was done by C. A. D. P., F. E. S., M. C. A., and D. C. C. The manuscript was prepared by C. A. D. P., F. E. S. and D. C. C.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cesar Augusto Dias de Paula
    • 1
  • Fernando Enrique Santiago
    • 1
  • Adriele Silva Alves de Oliveira
    • 1
  • Fernando Augusto Oliveira
    • 1
    • 3
  • Maria Camila Almeida
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Carneiro Carrettiero
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Universidade Federal do ABCSão Bernardo do CampoBrazil
  2. 2.Centro de Ciências Naturais e HumanasUniversidade Federal do ABCSão Bernardo do CampoBrazil
  3. 3.Centro de Matemática, Computação e CogniçãoUniversidade Federal do ABCSão Bernardo do CampoBrazil

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