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A single ultrasensitive assay for detection and discrimination of tau aggregates of Alzheimer and Pick diseases

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Metrick, Michael A. 
Ferreira, Natália do Carmo 
Saijo, Eri 
Kraus, Allison 
Newell, Kathy 


Abstract: Multiple neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by aggregation of tau molecules. Adult humans express six isoforms of tau that contain either 3 or 4 microtubule binding repeats (3R or 4R tau). Different diseases involve preferential aggregation of 3R (e.g Pick disease), 4R (e.g. progressive supranuclear palsy), or both 3R and 4R tau molecules [e.g. Alzheimer disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy]. Three ultrasensitive cell-free seed amplification assays [called tau real-time quaking induced conversion (tau RT-QuIC) assays] have been developed that preferentially detect 3R, 4R, or 3R/4R tau aggregates in biospecimens. In these reactions, low-fg amounts of a given self-propagating protein aggregate (the seed) are incubated with a vast excess of recombinant tau monomers (the substrate) in multi-well plates. Over time, the seeds incorporate the substrate to grow into amyloids that can then be detected using thioflavin T fluorescence. Here we describe a tau RT-QuIC assay (K12 RT-QuIC) that, using a C-terminally extended recombinant 3R tau substrate (K12CFh), enables sensitive detection of Pick disease, Alzheimer disease, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy seeds in brain homogenates. The discrimination of Pick disease from Alzheimer disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy cases is then achieved through the quantitative differences in K12 RT-QuIC assay thioflavin T responses, which correlate with structural properties of the reaction products. In particular, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analysis of the respective K12CFh amyloids showed distinct β-sheet conformations, suggesting at least partial propagation of the original seed conformations in vitro. Thus, K12 RT-QuIC provides a single assay for ultrasensitive detection and discrimination of tau aggregates comprised mainly of 3R, or both 3R and 4R, tau isoforms.



Methodology Article, RT-QuIC, Tau, Pick disease, Alzheimer disease, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Neurodegeneration, Protein misfolding, Seed, Primary age-related tauopathy

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Acta Neuropathologica Communications

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BioMed Central
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (ZIA AI001086-08)
U.S. Public Health Service (P30-AG010133)
Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease Foundation (none)
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (fellowship)
Massachusetts Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (P50 AG005134)