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Transcriptional signatures of progressive neuropathology in transgenic tau and amyloid mouse models.

By Isabel Castanho, Tracey K Murray, Eilis Hannon, Aaron Jeffries, Emma Walker, Emma Laing, Hedley Baulf, Joshua Harvey, Andrew Randall, Karen Moore, Paul O’Neill, Katie Lunnon, David A. Collier, Zeshan Ahmed, Michael J. O’Neil, Jonathan Mill

Posted 13 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/548578

The onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by increasing intracellular aggregation of hyperphosphorylated tau protein and accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) in the neocortex. Despite recent success in identifying genetic risk factors for AD the transcriptional mechanisms involved in disease progression are not fully understood. We used transgenic mice harbouring human tau (rTg4510) and amyloid precursor protein (J20) mutations to investigate transcriptional changes associated with the development of both tau and amyloid pathology. Using highly-parallel RNA sequencing we profiled transcriptional variation in the entorhinal cortex at four time points identifying robust genotype-associated differences in entorhinal cortex gene expression in both models. We quantified neuropathological burden across multiple brain regions in the same individual mice, identifying widespread changes in gene expression paralleling the development of tau pathology in rTg4510 mice. Differentially expressed transcripts included genes associated with familial AD from genetic studies of human patients, and genes annotated to both common and rare variants identified in GWAS and exome-sequencing studies of late-onset sporadic AD. Systems-level analyses identified discrete co-expression networks associated with the progressive accumulation of tau, with these enriched for genes and pathways previously implicated in the neuro-immunological and neurodegenerative processes driving AD pathology. Finally, we report considerable overlap between tau-associated networks and AD-associated co-expression modules identified in the human cortex. Our data provide further support for an immune-response component in the accumulation of tau, and reveal novel molecular pathways associated with the progression of AD neuropathology.

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