Tau-dependent suppression of adult neurogenesis in the stressed hippocampus

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Abstract

Stress, a well-known sculptor of brain plasticity, is shown to suppress hippocampal neurogenesis in the adult brain; yet, the underlying cellular mechanisms are poorly investigated. Previous studies have shown that chronic stress triggers hyperphosphorylation and accumulation of the cytoskeletal protein Tau, a process that may impair the cytoskeleton-regulating role (s) of this protein with impact on neuronal function. Here, we analyzed the role of Tau on stress-driven suppression of neurogenesis in the adult dentate gyrus (DG) using animals lacking Tau (Tau-knockout; Tau-KO) and wild-type (WT) littermates. Unlike WTs, Tau-KO animals exposed to chronic stress did not exhibit reduction in DG proliferating cells, neuroblasts and newborn neurons; however, newborn astrocytes were similarly decreased in both Tau-KO and WT mice. In addition, chronic stress reduced phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)/glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK3β)/β-catenin signaling, known to regulate cell survival and proliferation, in the DG of WT, but not Tau-KO, animals. These data establish Tau as a critical regulator of the cellular cascades underlying stress deficits on hippocampal neurogenesis in the adult brain.

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