Targeted degradation of aberrant tau in frontotemporal dementia patient-derived neuronal cell models

Citation:

Silva CM, Ferguson FM, Cai Q, Donovan KA, Nandi G, Patnaik D, Zhang T, Huang H-T, Lucente DE, Dickerson BC, et al. Targeted degradation of aberrant tau in frontotemporal dementia patient-derived neuronal cell models. Elife. 2019;8.

Date Published:

2019 Mar 25

Abstract:

Tauopathies are neurodegenerative diseases characterized by aberrant forms of tau protein accumulation leading to neuronal death in focal brain areas. Positron emission tomography (PET) tracers that bind to pathological tau are used in diagnosis, but there are no current therapies to eliminate these tau species. We employed targeted protein degradation technology to convert a tau PET-probe into a functional degrader of pathogenic tau. The hetero-bifunctional molecule QC-01-175 was designed to engage both tau and Cereblon (CRBN), a substrate-receptor for the E3-ubiquitin ligase CRL4, to trigger tau ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. QC-01-175 effected clearance of tau in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) patient-derived neuronal cell models, with minimal effect on tau from neurons of healthy controls, indicating specificity for disease-relevant forms. QC-01-175 also rescued stress vulnerability in FTD neurons, phenocopying CRISPR-mediated -knockout. This work demonstrates that aberrant tau in FTD patient-derived neurons is amenable to targeted degradation, representing an important advance for therapeutics.