Nuclear and cytoplasmic tau proteins from human nonneuronal cells share common structural and functional features with brain tau

Daniel C. Cross, Juan P. Muñoz, Paula Hernández, Ricardo B. Maccioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The heterogeneous family of tau proteins interacts with microtubules, actin filaments, and intermediate filaments. The tau isoforms have been shown to play a major role in neuronal polarity. However, tau-like proteins have been found in several other types of cells. Previous studies have also indicated the presence of a nuclear tau. The relationships between nuclear and cytoplasmic tau as well as the functional aspects of the nuclear tau are unknown. In this study, we demonstrate by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction using specific primers that a transcript with features of neuronal tau is present in human fibroblast and Huh-7 hepatoma cell lines. Additionally, we present the first isolation and characterization of cytosolic and nuclear tau-like proteins from nonneuronal cells. Nonneuronal cytosolic tau components were isolated using the perchloric acid precipitation approach, while nuclear tau was isolated after selective extractions using high-ionic strength buffers. The cytoplasmic tau of nonneuronal cells is composed of at least three isoforms, whereas two main isoforms were detected in nuclear tau. Interestingly, the cytoplasmic and nuclear tau components exhibited the capacity to promote tubulin polymerization in vitro. Immunofluorescence studies using monoclonal anti-tau antibodies indicated a discrete distribution of tau protein in both the interphase and mitotic nucleus. In the latter, tau colocalized with the chromosomal scaffold. These studies, together with previous evidence on tau roles in modulating microtubule growth from centrosomes, and its role in the interaction patterns that stabilize the integrity of the cytoskeletal network, strongly support the idea that tau is a multifunctional protein involved in fundamental cellular processes. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-317
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromosomal scaffold
  • Intracellular roles
  • Microtubule-associated proteins
  • Nuclear and cytoplasmic tau
  • Structural characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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