The lack or excess of the protein tau can be deleterious for neurons. The absence of tau can result in retarded neurogenesis and neuronal differentiation, although adult mice deficient in tau are viable, probably because of the compensation of the loss of tau by other MAPs (microtubule-associated proteins). On the contrary, the overexpression of tau can be toxic for the cell. One way to reduce intracellular tau levels can be achieved by its secretion through microvesicles to the extracellular space. Furthermore, tau can be found in the extracellular space because of the neuronal cell death occurring in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The presence of toxic extracellular tau could be the mechanism for the spreading of tau pathology in these neurodegenerative disorders.
Looking for novel functions of tau
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Jesus Avila, Elena Gomez de Barreda, Almudena Fuster-Matanzo, Diana Simón, María Llorens-Martín, Tobias Engel, Jose J. Lucas, Miguel Díaz-Hernández, Félix Hernández; Looking for novel functions of tau. Biochem Soc Trans 1 August 2012; 40 (4): 653–655. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BST20120006
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