A protein typically associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's might help scientists explore how gliomas, a type of cancerous brain tumor, become so aggressive.
The new study, in mouse models and human brain tumor tissues, was published in Science Translational Medicine and found a significant expression of the protein TAU in glioma cells, especially in those patients with better prognoses.
Patients with glioma are given a better prognosis when their tumor expresses a mutation in a gene called isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1).
In this international collaborative study led by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III-UFIEC in Madrid, Spain, those IDHI mutations stimulated the expression of TAU. Then, the presence of TAU acted as a brake for the formation of new blood vessels, which are necessary for the aggressive behavior of the tumors.
We report that the levels of microtubule-associated protein TAU, which have been associated with neurodegenerative diseases, are epigenetically controlled by the balance between normal and mutant IDH1/2 in mouse and human gliomas. In IDH1/2 mutant tumors, we found that expression levels of TAU decreased with tumor progression."
Maria G. Castro, Ph.D.co-author and professor of neurosurgery and cell and developmental biology, Michigan Medicine
That means levels of TAU could be used as a biomarker for tumor progression in mutant IDH1/2 gliomas, Castro says.
Gargini, R. et al. (2020) The IDH-TAU-EGFR triad defines the neovascular landscape of diffuse gliomas. Science Translational Medicine .doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aax1501.