Kang, Seong Su, et al. “Tau modification by the norepinephrine metabolite DOPEGAL stimulates its pathology and propagation.” Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 29.4 (2022): 292-305. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41594-022-00745-3
The noradrenergic locus ceruleus (LC) is the first site of detectable tau pathology in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but the mechanisms underlying the selective vulnerability of the LC in AD have not been completely identified. In the present study, we show that DOPEGAL, a monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) metabolite of norepinephrine (NE), reacts directly with the primary amine on the Lys353 residue of tau to stimulate its aggregation and facilitate its propagation. Inhibition of MAO-A or mutation of the Lys353 residue to arginine (Lys353Arg) decreases tau Lys353–DOPEGAL levels and diminishes tau pathology spreading. Wild-type tau preformed fibrils (PFFs) trigger Lys353–DOPEGAL formation, tau pathology propagation and cognitive impairment in MAPT transgenic mice, all of which are attenuated with PFFs made from the Lys353Arg mutant. Thus, the selective vulnerability of LC neurons in AD may be explained, in part, by NE oxidation via MAO-A into DOPEGAL, which covalently modifies tau and accelerates its aggregation, toxicity and propagation.