A presenilin-1 mutation identified in familial Alzheimer disease with cotton wool plaques causes a nearly complete loss of γ-secretase activity

Elizabeth A. Heilig, Weiming Xia, Jie Shen, Raymond J. Kelleher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mutations in presenilin-1 and presenilin-2 (PS1 and PS2) are the most common cause of familial Alzheimer disease. PS1 and PS2 are the presumptive catalytic components of the multisubunit γ-secretase complex, which proteolyzes a number of type I transmembrane proteins, including the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and Notch. APP processing by γ-secretase produces β-amyloid peptides (Aβ40 and Aβ42) that accumulate in the Alzheimer disease brain. Here we identify a pathogenic L435F mutation in PS1 in two affected siblings with early-onset familial Alzheimer disease characterized by deposition of cerebral cotton wool plaques. The L435F mutation resides in a conserved C-terminal PAL sequence implicated in active site conformation and catalytic activity. The impact of PS1 mutations in and around the PAL motif on γ-secretase activity was assessed by expression of mutant PS1 in mouse embryo fibroblasts lacking endogenous PS1 and PS2. Surprisingly, the L435F mutation caused a nearly complete loss of γ-secretase activity, including >90% reductions in the generation of Aβ40, Aβ42, and the APP and Notch intracellular domains. Two nonpathogenic PS1 mutations, P433L and L435R, caused essentially complete loss of γ-secretase activity, whereas two previously identified pathogenic PS1 mutations, P436Q and P436S, caused partial loss of function with substantial reductions in production of Aβ40, Aβ42, and the APP and Notch intracellular domains. These results argue against overproduction of Aβ42 as an essential property of presenilin proteins bearing pathogenic mutations. Rather, our findings provide support for the hypothesis that pathogenic mutations cause a general loss of presenilin function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22350-22359
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume285
Issue number29
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 16 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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