Tauopathies are neurodegenerative disorders that affect distinct brain regions, progress at different rates, and exhibit specific patterns of tau accumulation. The source of this diversity is unknown. Now, in a new study by Kaufman and colleagues, it is shown that distinct strains of tau cause different pathologies in mice. Tau forms multiple, unique prion strains with distinct biochemical properties. These tau strains induce diverse pathological phenotypes in vitro and in vivo. The different tau strains target different brain regions and propagate pathology at unique rates. This study provides strong evidence that different strains of tau can explain the origin of different tauopathies. The findings not only provide the basis for new insights into the pathogenesis of these diseases but also present a framework for understanding the diversity of human tauopathies.
Kaufman SK, Sanders DW, Thomas TL, Ruchinskas AJ, Vaquer-Alicea J, Sharma AM, Miller TM, Diamond MI: Tau prion strains dictate patterns of cell pathology, progression rate, and regional vulnerability in vivo. Neuron 92 (4):796–812 (2016).