The microtubule-associated protein tau is a key factor in neurodegenerative proteinopathies and is predominantly found in the neuronal axon. However, somatodendritic localization of tau occurs for a subset of pathological and physiologic tau. Dendritic tau can localize to post-synapses where it interacts with proteins of the post-synaptic density (PSD) protein PSD-95, a membrane-associated guanylate kinase (MAGUK) scaffold factor for organization of protein complexes within the PSD, to mediate downstream signals. The sub-molecular details of this interaction, however, remain unclear. Here, we use interaction mapping in cultured cells to demonstrate that tau interacts with the guanylate kinase (GUK) domain in the C-terminal region of PSD-95. The PSD-95 GUK domain is required and sufficient for a complex with full-length human tau. Mapping the interaction of the MAGUK core on tau revealed the microtubule binding repeats 2 and 3 and the proline-rich region contribute to this interaction, while the N- and C-terminal regions of tau inhibit interaction. These results reveal intramolecular determinants of the protein complex of tau and PSD-95 and increase our understanding of tau interactions regulating neurotoxic signaling at the molecular level.
- microtubule-associated protein tau
- membrane-associated guanylate kinase
- protein complex
- binding site
- interaction mapping