Single cell transcriptome analysis of the THY-Tau22 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease reveals sex-dependent dysregulations

Muhammad Ali, Pierre Garcia, Laetitia P. Lunkes, Alessia Sciortino, Melanie Thomas, Tony Heurtaux, Kamil Grzyb, Rashi Halder, Djalil Coowar, Alex Skupin, Luc Buée, David Blum, Manuel Buttini, Enrico Glaab*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progression and pathology show pronounced sex differences, but the factors driving these remain poorly understood. To gain insights into early AD-associated molecular changes and their sex dependency for tau pathology in the cortex, we performed single-cell RNA-seq in the THY-Tau22 AD mouse model. By examining cell type-specific and cell type-agnostic AD-related gene activity changes and their sex-dimorphism for individual genes, pathways and cellular sub-networks, we identified both statistically significant alterations and interpreted the upstream mechanisms controlling them. Our results confirm several significant sex-dependent alterations in gene activity in the THY-Tau22 model mice compared to controls, with more pronounced alterations in females. Both changes shared across multiple cell types and cell type-specific changes were observed. The differential genes showed significant over-representation of known AD-relevant processes, such as pathways associated with neuronal differentiation, programmed cell death and inflammatory responses. Regulatory network analysis of these genes revealed upstream regulators that modulate many of the downstream targets with sex-dependent changes. Most key regulators have been previously implicated in AD, such as Egr1, Klf4, Chchd2, complement system genes, and myelin-associated glycoproteins. Comparing with similar data from the Tg2576 AD mouse model and human AD patients, we identified multiple genes with consistent, cell type-specific and sex-dependent alterations across all three datasets. These shared changes were particularly evident in the expression of myelin-associated genes such as Mbp and Plp1 in oligodendrocytes. In summary, we observed significant cell type-specific transcriptomic changes in the THY-Tau22 mouse model, with a strong over-representation of known AD-associated genes and processes. These include both sex-neutral and sex-specific patterns, characterized by consistent shifts in upstream master regulators and downstream target genes. Collectively, these findings provide insights into mechanisms influencing sex-specific susceptibility to AD and reveal key regulatory proteins that could be targeted for developing treatments addressing sex-dependent AD pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119
JournalCell Death Discovery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes


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