Heparan sulfate as a therapeutic target in tauopathies: Insights from zebrafish

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Abstract

Microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) hyperphosphorylation and aggregation, are two hallmarks of a family of neurodegenerative disorders collectively referred to as tauopathies. In many tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and Pick's disease, tau aggregates are found associated with highly sulfated polysaccharides known as heparan sulfates (HSs). In AD, amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide aggregates associated with HS are also characteristic of disease. Heparin, an HS analog, promotes misfolding, hyperphosphorylation and aggregation of tau protein in vitro. HS also provides cell surface receptors for attachment and uptake of tau seeds, enabling their propagation. These findings point to HS-tau interactions as potential therapeutic targets in tauopathies. The zebrafish genome contains genes paralogous to MAPT, genes orthologous to HS biosynthetic and chain modifier enzymes, and other genes implicated in AD. The nervous system in the zebrafish bears anatomical and chemical similarities to that in humans. These homologies, together with numerous technical advantages, make zebrafish a valuable model for investigating basic mechanisms in tauopathies and identifying therapeutic targets. Here, we comprehensively review current knowledge on the role of HSs in tau pathology and HS-targeting therapeutic approaches. We also discuss novel insights from zebrafish suggesting a role for HS 3-O-sulfated motifs in tau pathology and establishing HS antagonists as potential preventive agents or therapies for tauopathies.

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Naini, S. M. A., & Soussi-Yanicostas, N. (2018, December 20). Heparan sulfate as a therapeutic target in tauopathies: Insights from zebrafish. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. Frontiers Media S.A. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcell.2018.00163

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