It is now established that numerous amyloid proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases, including tau and α-synuclein, have essential characteristics of prions, including the ability to create transmissible cellular pathology in vivo. We have developed cellular bioassays that report on the various features of prion activity using genetic engineering and quantitative fluorescence-based detection systems. We have exploited these biosensors to measure the binding and uptake of tau seeds into cells in culture and to quantify seeding activity in brain samples. These cell models have also been used to propagate tau prion strains indefinitely in culture. In this review, we illustrate the utility of cellular biosensors to gain mechanistic insight into prion transmission and to study neurodegenerative diseases in a reductionist fashion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)