Inhibition of p25/Cdk5 Attenuates Tauopathy in Mouse and iPSC Models of Frontotemporal Dementia

Jinsoo Seo, Oleg Kritskiy, L Ashley Watson, Scarlett J Barker, Dilip Dey, Waseem K Raja, Yuan-Ta Lin, Tak Ko, Sukhee Cho, Jay Penney, M Catarina Silva, Steven D Sheridan, Diane Lucente, James F Gusella, Bradford C Dickerson, Stephen J Haggarty, Li-Huei Tsai
Journal of Neuroscience 2017 October 11, 37 (41): 9917-9924
Increased p25, a proteolytic fragment of the regulatory subunit p35, is known to induce aberrant activity of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5), which is associated with neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease. Previously, we showed that replacing endogenous p35 with the noncleavable mutant p35 (Δp35) attenuated amyloidosis and improved cognitive function in a familial Alzheimer's disease mouse model. Here, to address the role of p25/Cdk5 in tauopathy, we generated double-transgenic mice by crossing mice overexpressing mutant human tau (P301S) with Δ p35KI mice. We observed significant reduction of phosphorylated tau and its seeding activity in the brain of double transgenic mice compared with the P301S mice. Furthermore, synaptic loss and impaired LTP at hippocampal CA3 region of P301S mice were attenuated by blocking p25 generation. To further validate the role of p25/Cdk5 in tauopathy, we used frontotemporal dementia patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) carrying the Tau P301L mutation and generated P301L:Δp35KI isogenic iPSC lines using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. We created cerebral organoids from the isogenic iPSCs and found that blockade of p25 generation reduced levels of phosphorylated tau and increased expression of synaptophysin. Together, these data demonstrate a crucial role for p25/Cdk5 in mediating tau-associated pathology and suggest that inhibition of this kinase can remedy neurodegenerative processes in the presence of pathogenic tau mutation. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Accumulation of p25 results in aberrant Cdk5 activation and induction of numerous pathological phenotypes, such as neuroinflammation, synaptic loss, Aβ accumulation, and tau hyperphosphorylation. However, it was not clear whether p25/Cdk5 activity is necessary for the progression of these pathological changes. We recently developed the Δ p35KI transgenic mouse that is deficient in p25 generation and Cdk5 hyperactivation. In this study, we used this mouse model to elucidate the role of p25/Cdk5 in FTD mutant tau-mediated pathology. We also used a frontotemporal dementia patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell carrying the Tau P301L mutation and generated isogenic lines in which p35 is replaced with noncleavable mutant Δp35. Our data suggest that p25/Cdk5 plays an important role in tauopathy in both mouse and human model systems.

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