Using the Fruit Fly to Model Tau Malfunction

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Science  15 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5524, pp. 1983-1984
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5524.1983a

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In work published online by Science on 14 June (, researchers show that fruit flies producing the human tau protein--which forms part of abnormal intracellular structures called tangles seen in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease and certain other dementias--undergo brain neuron degeneration. But in a surprising finding, the dying fly neurons do not contain tangles. Some researchers suggest that the results indicate that defective tau proteins can kill neurons without forming tangles; others caution, however, that the lack of tangles might mean that flies aren't a good model of human dementias.