Tau modulates visual plasticity in adult and old mice

Rodriguez L, Joly S, Zine-Eddine F, Mdzomba JB, Pernet V

Neurobiology of Aging · 2 Nov 2020 · doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2020.07.024

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Tau, a protein known to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease, has elusive functionality in the healthy CNS. Using be-havioral measurements with our OptoDrum as a readout, Rodriguez et al could show that Tau is involved in adap-tive plasticity in the adult brain, in response to changes in sensory experience.

Abstract

Tau is a microtubule-associated protein involved in Alzheimer's disease. However, little is known on its physiological function in the healthy central nervous system. Here, we observed that the expression of Tau isoforms was modulated by neuronal maturation and visual experience in the mouse retina and in the visual cortex. The visual function of wild-type (WT) and Tau knockout (KO) mice was evaluated using the optokinetic reflex (OKR), an innate visuomotor behavior, and by electroretinography. Visual tests did not reveal functional impairments in young adult and old Tau KO animals. Moreover, monocular deprivation (MD) was used to increase OKR sensitivity, a plasticity phenomenon depending on the visual cortex. MD-induced OKR sensitivity enhancement was significantly stronger in Tau KO than in WT mice suggesting that Tau restricts visual plasticity. In addition, human Tau expression did not affect visual function and plasticity in a mouse tauopathy model, relative to WT controls. Our results unveil a novel function for Tau in the adaptive mechanisms of plasticity operating in the adult brain subjected to sensory experience changes.