Tau is a microtubule‐associated neuronal protein found mainly in axons. However, its presence in dendrites and dendritic spines is particularly relevant due to its involvement in synaptic plasticity and neurodegeneration. Here, we show that Tau plays a novel in vivo role in the morphological and synaptic maturation of newborn hippocampal granule neurons under basal conditions. Furthermore, we reveal that Tau is involved in the selective cell death of immature granule neurons caused by acute stress. Also, Tau deficiency protects newborn neurons from the stress‐induced dendritic atrophy and loss of postsynaptic densities (PSDs). Strikingly, we also demonstrate that Tau regulates the increase in newborn neuron survival triggered by environmental enrichment (EE). Moreover, newborn granule neurons from Tau−/− mice did not show any stimulatory effect of EE on dendritic development or on PSD generation. Thus, our data demonstrate that Tau−/− mice show impairments in the maturation of newborn granule neurons under basal conditions and that they are insensitive to the modulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis exerted by both stimulatory and detrimental stimuli.
Tau regulates the in vivo maturation of newborn granule neurons under physiological conditions. In addition, Tau deficiency prevents both the detrimental and stimulatory actions of acute stress and environmental enrichment, respectively, on the functional maturation of these cells. Altogether, our data shed light on novel functions of Tau protein related to the plastic modulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis by external stimuli.
Tau plays a novel in vivo role in the synaptic maturation of newborn granule neurons under basal conditions.
Tau is involved in immature granule neuron cell death caused by acute stress.
Tau regulates the stress‐induced impairment of newborn granule neuron functional maturation.
Tau regulates the increase in newborn neuron survival triggered by environmental enrichment.
Tau modulates the stimulatory effects of environmental enrichment on the functional maturation of newborn granule neurons.
- Received November 18, 2015.
- Revision received April 1, 2016.
- Accepted April 21, 2016.
- © 2016 The Authors