BAG-1 associates with Hsc70·Tau complex and regulates the proteasomal degradation of Tau protein

Evan Elliott, Peter Tsvetkov, Irith Ginzburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Intraneuronal accumulation of phosphorylated Tau protein is a molecular pathology found in many forms of dementia, including Alzheimer disease. Research into possible mechanisms leading to the accumulation of modified Tau protein and the possibility of removing Tau protein from the system have revealed that the chaperone protein system can interact with Tau and mediate its degradation. Hsp70/Hsc70, a member of the chaperone protein family, interacts with Tau protein and mediates proper folding of Tau and can promote degradation of Tau protein under certain circumstances. However, because Hsp70/Hsc70 has many binding partners that can mediate its activity, there is still much to discover about how Hsp70 acts in vivo to regulate Tau protein. BAG-1, an Hsp70/Hsc70 binding partner, has been implicated as a mediator of neuronal function. In this work we show that BAG-1 associates with Tau protein in an Hsc70-dependent manner. Overexpression of BAG-1 induced an increase in Tau levels, which is shown to be due to an inhibition of protein degradation. We further show that BAG-1 can inhibit the degradation of Tau protein by the 20 S proteasome but does not affect the ubiquitination of Tau protein. RNA-mediated interference depletion of BAG-1 leads to a decrease in total Tau protein levels as well as promoting hyperphosphorylation of the remaining protein. Induction of Hsp70 by heat shock enhanced the increase of Tau levels in cells overexpressing BAG-1 but induced a decrease of Tau levels in cells that were depleted of BAG-1. Finally, BAG-1 is highly expressed in neurons bearing Tau tangles in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease. This data suggests a molecular mechanism through which Tau protein levels are regulated in the cell and possible consequences for the pathology and treatment of Alzheimer disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37276-37284
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number51
StatePublished - 21 Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


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