Tau gene mutations in frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP - 17): Their relevance for understanding the neurogenerative process

Michel Goedert, Bernardino Ghetti, Maria Grazia Spillantini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations


Tau is a microtubule-associated protein that binds to microtubules and promotes microtubule assembly. Six tau isoforms are produced in adult human brain by alternative mRNA splicing from a single gene. Inclusion of a 31 amino acid repeat encoded by exon 10 of the tau gene gives rise to the three isoforms with four microtubule-binding repeats each. The other three tau isoforms have three repeats each. Abundant neurofibrillary lesions made of tau protein constitute a defining neuropathological characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. Filamentous tau protein deposits are also the defining characteristic of other neurodegenerative diseases, many of which are frontotemporal dementias or movement disorders, such as Pick's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration. It is well established that the distribution of tau pathology correlates with the presence of symptoms of disease. However, until recently, there was no genetic evidence linking tau to neurodegeneration. This has now changed with the discovery of more than 15 mutations in the tau gene in frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17). The new work has shown that dysfunction of tau protein causes neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-83
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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