Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Anatomy & Neurobiology

First Advisor

Rory McQuiston


Tauopathy, which results from the oligomerization of misfolded tau protein in neurons, is a feature present in a number of neurodegenerative diseases and a hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Tau is an important phosphoprotein that regulates the assembly of microtubules, but tauopathy can occur when tau becomes hyperphosphorylated. Phosphorylation prevents tau from binding to tubulin, which results in cytosolic accumulation of tau and eventual oligomerization. This abnormal accumulation of tau leads to the spreading of hyperphosphorylated tau to downstream synaptically connected neurons through an unknown mechanism. In AD, the hippocampus is one of the first brain structures to be affected by tauopathy in humans. According to previous research, tauopathy occurs primarily between principal cells in the hippocampus. The involvement of local inhibitory interneurons in tauopathy and their potential role in AD is more controversial. Previous research suggests that tau pathogenesis primarily affects principal cells; however, given the importance, diversity, and function of interneurons in the hippocampus, it is important to gain a better understanding of the interneuron subtypes that may be impacted by the spread of trans-synaptic tau into the hippocampus. Understanding the involvement of interneurons in trans-synaptic tau transmission is important to understanding neurodegeneration in AD and other neurodegenerative disorders. To investigate this, both male and female genetically-modified mice underwent surgery to examine the trans-synaptic spread of pathogenic tau (EGFP-Tau P301L) from the entorhinal cortex to hippocampal neurons. Histology and imaging analysis of brain sections were performed to examine the hippocampal cells impacted by trans-synaptic spread of tau. Results show that pathogenic tau can trans-synaptically spread from presynaptic neurons in the entorhinal cortex into downstream hippocampal interneurons and also that hippocampal interneurons are capable of trans-synaptically spreading tau. Future studies examining the specific subtypes of hippocampal interneurons vulnerable to trans-synaptic spread of tau will be important for a better understanding of disease progression, which could lead to uncovering new therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases, like AD, which are associated with tauopathy.


© Michael Adeniran Bamisile 2019

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