p73 regulates neurodegeneration and phospho-tau accumulation during aging and Alzheimer's disease.
Wetzel MK., Naska S., Laliberté CL., Rymar VV., Fujitani M., Biernaskie JA., Cole CJ., Lerch JP., Spring S., Wang S-H., Frankland PW., Henkelman RM., Josselyn SA., Sadikot AF., Miller FD., Kaplan DR.
The genetic mechanisms that regulate neurodegeneration are only poorly understood. We show that the loss of one allele of the p53 family member, p73, makes mice susceptible to neurodegeneration as a consequence of aging or Alzheimer's disease (AD). Behavioral analyses demonstrated that old, but not young, p73+/- mice displayed reduced motor and cognitive function, CNS atrophy, and neuronal degeneration. Unexpectedly, brains of aged p73+/- mice demonstrated dramatic accumulations of phospho-tau (P-tau)-positive filaments. Moreover, when crossed to a mouse model of AD expressing a mutant amyloid precursor protein, brains of these mice showed neuronal degeneration and early and robust formation of tangle-like structures containing P-tau. The increase in P-tau was likely mediated by JNK; in p73+/- neurons, the activity of the p73 target JNK was enhanced, and JNK regulated P-tau levels. Thus, p73 is essential for preventing neurodegeneration, and haploinsufficiency for p73 may be a susceptibility factor for AD and other neurodegenerative disorders.