P301L tauopathyconfocal immunofluorescence study of perinuclear aggregation of the mutated protein

Emil Adamec, Jill R. Murrell, Masaki Takao, Wendy Hobbs, Ralph A. Nixon, Bernardino Ghetti, Jean P. Vonsattel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


The clinical and neuropathological features in the P301L tauopathy have been described in several kindreds. In this study, we present findings in two previously unreported patients, evaluated both genetically, neuropathologically, and with multiparametric confocal immunofluorescence. The patients were female, with age 65 and 75 years old, respectively. Both exhibited clinical symptoms of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Marked atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes with moderate atrophy of the remaining cerebral and brain stem structures was present. The substantia nigra was pale. The atrophic neocortical regions exhibited neuronal loss, marked gliosis, status spongiosus, and occasional ballooned neurons. By light microscopy, the most striking findings were argyrophilic perinuclear rings, frequently with an attached small inclusion (mini Pick-like body), especially prominent in dentate granule cells, entorhinal and temporal cortices, and to a lesser extent in CA1. These structures were immunopositive for tau protein (Tau-2, AT-8, PHF-1, MC-1). Numerous astrocytic plaques, tuft-shaped astrocytes, coiled bodies, and dystrophic neurites were also present. Confocal immunofluorescence with a P301L-specific antibody directly demonstrated the presence of the mutated protein in the PHF-1 positive aggregates. The mutated tau protein (4-repeat tau) was detected in the mini Pick-like bodies, indicating an important biochemical difference between these inclusions and classical Pick bodies (3-repeat tau). Additionally, since 4-repeat tau protein is not normally present in dentate granule cells, this result also suggests an abnormality in the mRNA splicing mechanisms. The structural features of the involvement of proteolytic systems in this tauopathy were assessed by immunohistochemistry for the active form of calpain II (C-27) and ubiquitin. Colocalization of PHF-1 positive aggregates with C-27 points to the possible involvement of calpain in tau protein hyperphosphorylation. Absence of immunostaining for ubiquitin indicates possible dysfunction of the ubiquitin-proteasome system in this tauopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-93
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 15 2002


  • Confocal microscopy
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mutation
  • Tau protein
  • Tauopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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