Tau generates protective envelopes on microtubules

Zdeněk Lánský

Institute of Biotechnology, Czech Academy of Sciences, BIOCEV

Tau is an intrinsically disordered microtubule-binding protein involved in a number of neurodegenerative diseases. Malfunction of tau and its detachment from axonal microtubules is correlated with axonal degeneration. However, mechanistic understanding of this process is still missing. Employing in vitro reconstitution approach combined with single molecule imaging, we recently showed that tau molecules cooperatively form cohesive, selectively permeable envelopes on the microtubule surface. We found that the formation of tau envelopes is governed by structural changes in the microtubule lattice. Importantly, these tau envelopes can protect microtubules from microtubule-degrading enzymes. I will discuss the mechanism of the tau envelope formation and the effect of established neurodegenerative factors on the envelope structure and stability.