Research Article- Interaction of Cu(II) with Microtubule Binding Repeats of Tau Protein-A New Insight into the Molecular Mechanism of Alzheimer's Disease

Published: 4 May 2020| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/4gvjr85866.2
Soha Ahmadi, Shaolong Zhu, Renu Sharma,
, R.Dutta Majumdar, Derek Wilson,


Understanding the factors that give rise to tau aggregation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) is the key aspect of Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis. Microtubule (MT) binding repeats of tau protein were suggested to play a critical role in tau aggregation. Here, we show that the interaction of Cu(II) with full-length MT binding repeats R1−R4 leads to the aggregation, and Cys-based redox chemistry is critically involved in tau aggregation leading to disulfide-bridge dimerization of R2 and R3 and further aggregation into a fibrillar structure. Notably, ascorbate and glutathione, the most abundant antioxidants in neurons, cannot prevent the effect of Cu(II) on R2 and R3 aggregation. Detailed ESI-MS and NMR experiments demonstrate the interaction of Cu(II) with MT binding repeats. We show that redox activity of copper increases when bound to the MT repeats leading to ROS formation, which significantly contributes to cellular damage and neuron death. Results presented here provide new insights into the molecular mechanism of tau aggregation and ROS formation and suggest a new target domain for tau aggregation inhibitors. References: (1) Ahmadi, S.; Wu, B.; Song, R.; Zhu, S.; Simpson, A.; Wilson, D. J.; Kraatz, H. B. Exploring the Interactions of Iron and Zinc with the Microtubule Binding Repeats R1 and R4. J. Inorg. Biochem. 2020, 205, 110987. (2)Ahmadi, S.; Zhu, S.; Sharma, R.; Wilson, D. J.; Kraatz, H.-B. Interaction of Metal Ions with Tau Protein. The Case for a Metal-Mediated Tau Aggregation. J. Inorg. Biochem. 2019, 194, 44–51. (3) Ahmadi, S.; Ebralidze, I. I.; She, Z.; Kraatz, H.-B. Electrochemical Studies of Tau Protein-Iron Interactions—Potential Implications for Alzheimer’s Disease. Electrochim. Acta 2017, 236, 384–393.



University of Toronto at Scarborough, University of Toronto


Bioinorganic Chemistry, Copper, Protein Aggregation, Oxidative Stress, Alzheimer's Disease, Reactive Oxygen Species, Tau