Axon injury-induced autophagy activation is impaired in a c. Elegans model of tauopathy

Su Hyuk Ko, Gilberto Gonzalez, Zhijie Liu, Lizhen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Autophagy is a conserved pathway that plays a key role in cell homeostasis in normal settings, as well as abnormal and stress conditions. Autophagy dysfunction is found in various neurodegenerative diseases, although it remains unclear whether autophagy impairment is a contributor or consequence of neurodegeneration. Axonal injury is an acute neuronal stress that triggers autophagic responses in an age-dependent manner. In this study, we investigate the injury-triggered autophagy response in a C. elegans model of tauopathy. We found that transgenic expression of pro-aggregant Tau, but not the anti-aggregant Tau, abolished axon injury-induced autophagy activation, resulting in a reduced axon regeneration capacity. Furthermore, axonal trafficking of autophagic vesicles were significantly reduced in the animals expressing pro-aggregant F3∆K280 Tau, indicating that Tau aggregation impairs autophagy regulation. Importantly, the reduced number of total or trafficking autophagic vesicles in the tauopathy model was not restored by the autophagy activator rapamycin. Loss of PTL-1, the sole Tau homologue in C. elegans, also led to impaired injury-induced autophagy activation, but with an increased basal level of autophagic vesicles. Therefore, we have demonstrated that Tau aggregation as well as Tau depletion both lead to disruption of injury-induced autophagy responses, suggesting that aberrant protein aggregation or microtubule dysfunction can modulate autophagy regulation in neurons after injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8559
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 2 2020


  • Aggregation
  • Autophagy
  • Axon injury
  • Axon regeneration
  • Ptl-1
  • Tau
  • Tauopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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