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Overexpression of tau downregulated the mRNA levels of Kv channels and improved proliferation in N2A cells.

Xiantao Li, Ximu Hu, Xiaoqing Li, Xuran Hao

PLoS ONE, 2015 , 10, e0116628

Microtubule binding protein tau has a crucial function in promoting the assembly and stabilization of microtubule. Besides tuning the action potentials, voltage-gated K+ channels (Kv) are important for cell proliferation and appear to play a role in the development of cancer. However, little is known about the possible interaction of tau with Kv channels in various tissues. In the present study, tau plasmids were transiently transfected into mouse neuroblastoma N2A cells to explore the possible linkages between tau and Kv channels. This treatment led to a downregulation of mRNA levels of several Kv channels, including Kv2.1, Kv3.1, Kv4.1, Kv9.2, and KCNH4, but no significant alteration was observed for Kv5.1 and KCNQ4. Furthermore, the macroscopic currents through Kv channels were reduced by 36.5% at +60 mV in tau-transfected N2A cells. The proliferation rates of N2A cells were also improved by the induction of tau expression and the incubation of TEA (tetraethylammonium) for 48 h by 120.9% and 149.3%, respectively. Following the cotransfection with tau in HEK293 cells, the mRNA levels and corresponding currents of Kv2.1 were significantly declined compared with single Kv2.1 transfection. Our data indicated that overexpression of tau declined the mRNA levels of Kv channels and related currents. The effects of tau overexpression on Kv channels provided an alternative explanation for low sensitivity to anti-cancer chemicals in some specific cancer tissues.