Zebrafish lacking Alzheimer presenilin enhancer 2 (Pen-2) demonstrate excessive p53-dependent apoptosis and neuronal loss

William A. Campbell, Hongwei Yang, Henrik Zetterberg, Stéphanie Baulac, Jacqueline A. Sears, Tianming Liu, Stephen T.C. Wong, Tao P. Zhong, Weiming Xia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


γ-Secretase cleavage, mediated by a complex of presenilin, presenilin enhancer (Pen-2), nicastrin, and Aph-1, is the final proteolytic step in generating amyloid β protein found in brains of Alzheimer's disease patients and Notch intracellular domain critical for proper neuronal development. Here, we employ the zebrafish model to study the role of Pen-2 in neuronal survival. We found that (i) knockdown of Pen-2 using antisense morpholino led to a reduction of islet-1 positive neurons, (ii) Notch signaling was reduced in embryos lacking Pen-2 or other γ-secretase components, (iii) neuronal loss in Pen-2 knockdown embryos is not as a result of a lack of neuronal precursor cells or cell proliferation, (iv) absence of Pen-2 caused massive apoptosis in the whole animal, which could be suppressed by simultaneous knockdown of the tumor suppressor p53, (v) loss of islet-1 or acetylated tubulin positive neurons in Pen-2 knockdown embryos could be partially rescued by knockdown of p53. Our results demonstrate that knockdown of Pen-2 directly induces a p53-dependent apoptotic pathway that contributes to neuronal loss and suggest that Pen-2 plays an important role in promoting neuronal cell survival and protecting from apoptosis in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1423-1440
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • γ-secretase
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Pen-2
  • Presenilin
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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