Transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) regulates alternative splicing of tau exon 10: Implications for the pathogenesis of tauopathies

Jianlan Gu, Feng Chen, Khalid Iqbal, Cheng Xin Gong, Xinglong Wang, Fei Liu

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44 Scopus citations


Hyperphosphorylation and aggregation of the neuronal protein tau are responsible for neurodegenerative diseases called tauopathies. Dysregulation of the alternative splicing of tau exon 10 results in alterations of the ratio of two tau isoforms, 3R-tau and 4R-tau, which have been seen in several tauopathies. Transactive response DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43) is involved in the regulation of RNA processing, including splicing. Cytoplasmic aggregation of TDP-43 has been observed in the brains of individuals with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or Alzheimer’s disease, diseases in which neurofibrillary tangles of hyperphosphorylated tau are hallmarks. Here, we investigated the role of TDP-43 in tau exon 10 splicing. We found that TDP-43 promoted tau exon 10 inclusion, which increased production of the 4R-tau isoform. Moreover, TDP-43 could bind to intron 9 of tau pre-mRNA. Deletion of the TDP-43 N or C terminus promoted its cytoplasmic aggregation and abolished or diminished TDP-43-promoted tau exon 10 inclusion. Several TDP-43 mutations associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin inclusions promoted tau exon 10 inclusion more effectively than wild-type TDP-43 but did not affect TDP-43 cytoplasmic aggregation in cultured cells. The ratio of 3R-tau/4R-tau was decreased in transgenic mouse brains expressing human TDP-43 and increased in the brains expressing the disease-causing mutation TDP-43M337V, in which cytoplasmic TDP-43 was increased. These findings suggest that TDP-43 promotes tau exon 10 inclusion and 4R-tau expression and that disease-related changes of TDP-43, truncations and mutations, affect its function in tau exon 10 splicing, possibly because of TDP-43 mislocalization to the cytoplasm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10600-10612
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 23 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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