Vacuolar protein sorting 35 (Vps35) mutations and protein dysfunction have been linked to the hyperphosphorylation and accumulation of tau protein in a number of central neurodegenerative disorders. The aims of the present study were to investigate the mechanism underlying the tau hyperphosphorylation caused by Vps35 deficiency.
The cells used in this study were primary retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). The rat retinal glutamate excitotoxicity model was used in vivo. Fresh retinal tissues or eyeballs were collected at different time points. The expression and interactions of Vps35, Cdk5/p35, tau hyperphosphorylation, LAMP1, EEA1 and UBE1 in RGCs were studied by immunofluorescence staining, Western blotting, and immunoprecipitation.
The downregulation and overexpression of Vps35 increased and decreased the expression of p35 and tau hyperphosphorylation, respectively. More important, roscovitine, a Cdk5 inhibitor, could effectively decrease the hyperphosphorylated tau level induced by Vps35 deficiency. Furthermore, this study confirmed that the inhibition of Vps35 could increase the activity of Cdk5/p35 by affecting the lysosomal degradation of p35 and lead to the degeneration of RGCs.
These findings demonstrate the possibility that Cdk5/p35 acts as a “cargo” of Vps35 and provide new insights into the pathogenesis of RGC degeneration caused by hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Vps35 is a potential target for basic research and clinical treatment of RGC degeneration in many ocular diseases such as glaucoma.