DOI: 10.1002/alz.074686 ISSN: 1552-5260

Alternative splicing and characterisation of the tauopathy‐induced gene Growth Arrest DNA Damage Induced 45 alpha

Kirsten L Williamson, Aleksandra Pitera, Vincent O'Connor, Katrin Deinhardt
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



The Gadd45 family are a set of 3 genes classically induced by DNA damage. They are also induced by wider stresses such as axonal injury, ischemia and degenerative diseases like ALS. Increased Gadd45 protein staining is observed in AD brains, however their association with pathogenic tau is unknown. The Gadd45 genes undergo alternative splicing to generate 8 functionally distinct proteins, whose significance in neuronal systems are poorly understood. We aim to investigate if the Gadd45 family are upregulated in tauopathies and whether this is accompanied by changes to mRNA splicing of these genes, with a view to understand whether these differentially affect cell health.


Transgenic mice (rTg4510) over‐expressing and FTD‐associated mutant tau (TauP301L) were used to investigate tau‐associated upregulation of the Gadd45 genes. Subsequently, we analyse which splice variants are present in primary cortical neurons and express plasmid constructs of these variants to investigate their sub‐cellular localisation and function, using apoptotic cell death as a read‐out.


Gadd45α, but not β or γ members of the same family, is upregulated in response to pathological tau. Untreated cortical neurones express a single isoform of the Gadd45α gene, however upon cellular stress 2 additional isoforms are induced. The identified variants show distinct sub‐cellular distribution, including changes to nuclear localisation and the development of punctate staining. Furthermore, these differentially affect apoptosis.


Gadd45α is selectively upregulated by tau pathology. The gene undergoes alternative splicing in murine neurones in response to cellular stress, and these variants show evidence for distinct functions. We will next investigate the association of these variants with pathological tau.

We thank the Alzheimer’s Society for funding this work.

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