Presenilin is the catalytic component of γ-secretase, a complex aspartyl protease and a founding member of intramembrane-cleaving proteases. γ-Secretase is involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and a top target for therapeutic intervention. However, the protease complex processes a variety of transmembrane substrates, including the Notch receptor, raising concerns about toxicity. Nevertheless, γ-secretase inhibitors and modulators have been identified that allow Notch processing and signalling to continue, and promising compounds are entering clinical trials. Molecular and biochemical studies offer a model for how this protease hydrolyzes transmembrane domains in the confines of the lipid bilayer. Progress has also been made toward structure elucidation of presenilin and the γ-secretase complex by electron microscopy as well as by studying cysteine-mutant presenilins. The signal peptide peptidase (SPP) family of proteases are distantly related to presenilins. However, the SPPs work as single polypeptides without the need for cofactors and otherwise appear to be simple model systems for presenilin in the γ-secretase complex. SPP biology, structure, and inhibition will also be discussed.
amyloid; Notch receptor; peptidomimetics; signal peptide peptidase; substrate analogues; substrate recognition
C99 is the transmembrane carboxyl-terminal domain of the amyloid precursor protein that is cleaved by γ-secretase to release the amyloid-β polypeptides, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Nuclear magnetic resonance and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy show that the extracellular amino terminus of C99 includes a surface-embedded “N-helix” followed by a short “N-loop” connecting to the transmembrane domain (TMD). The TMD is a flexibly curved α helix, making it well suited for processive cleavage by γ-secretase. Titration of C99 reveals a binding site for cholesterol, providing mechanistic insight into how cholesterol promotes amyloidogenesis. Membrane-buried GXXXG motifs (G, Gly; X, any amino acid), which have an established role in oligomerization, were also shown to play a key role in cholesterol binding. The structure and cholesterol binding properties of C99 may aid in the design of Alzheimer’s therapeutics.
Presenilins (PSs) are catalytic components of the γ-secretase proteolytic complexes that produce Aβ and cell signaling peptides. γ-Secretase substrates are mostly membrane-bound peptides derived following proteolytic cleavage of the extracellular domain of typeI transmembrane proteins. Recent work reveals that γ-secretase substrate processing is regulated by proteins termed γ-Secretase Substrate Recruiting Factors (γSSRFs) that bridge substrates to γ-secretase complexes. These factors constitute novel targets for pharmacological control of specific γ-secretase products such as Aβ and signaling peptides. PS familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD) mutants cause a loss of γ-secretase cleavage function at epsilon sites of substrates thus inhibiting production of cell signaling peptides while promoting accumulation of uncleaved toxic substrates. Importantly, γ-secretase inhibitors may cause toxicity in vivo by similar mechanisms. Here we review novel mechanisms that control γ-secretase substrate selection and cleavage and examine their relevance to AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; Presenilin; Familial AD mutations; γ-Secretase Substrate Recruiting Factors (γSSRFs); metalloproteinases; ADAMs; toxic substrates; γ-Secretase-produced signaling peptides
γ-Secretase, a multi-subunit transmembrane protease comprised of presenilin, nicastrin, presenilin enhancer 2, and anterior pharynx-defective 1, participates in the regulated intramembrane proteolysis of Type I membrane proteins including the amyloid precursor protein (APP). Although Aph-1 is thought to play a structural role in the assembly of γ-secretase complex and several transmembrane domains (TMDs) of Aph-1 have been shown to be critical for its function, the importance of the other domains of Aph-1 remains elusive. We screened a series of Aph-1 mutants and focused on 9 mutations distributed in 6 different TMDs of human APH-1aS, assessing their ability to complement mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking Aph-1. We showed that mutations in TMD4 (G126) and TMD5 (H171) of Aph-1a prevented the formation of the Nct/Aph-1 subcomplex. Importantly, although mutations in TMD3 (Q83/E84/R85) and TMD6 (H197) of APH-1aS did not affect Nct/Aph-1 subcomplex formation, both mutations prevented further association/endoproteolysis of PS1. We propose a model that identifies critical TMDs of Aph-1 for associations with Nct and PS for the stepwise assembly of γ-secretase components.
γ-Secretase; Aph-1; Nct; PS; mutagenesis; transmembrane domain
γ-Secretase generates the peptides of Alzheimer's disease, Aβ40 and Aβ42, by cleaving the amyloid precursor protein within its transmembrane domain. γ-Secretase also cleaves numerous other substrates, raising concerns about γ-secretase inhibitor off-target effects. Another important class of drugs, γ-secretase modulators, alter the cleavage site of γ-secretase on amyloid precursor protein, changing the Aβ42/Aβ40 ratio, and are thus a promising therapeutic approach for Alzheimer's disease. However, the target for γ-secretase modulators is uncertain, with some data suggesting that they function on γ-secretase, whereas others support their binding to the amyloid precursor. In this paper we address this controversy by using a fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based assay to examine whether γ-secretase modulators alter Presenilin-1/γ-secretase conformation in intact cells in the absence of its natural substrates such as amyloid precursor protein and Notch. We report that the γ-secretase allosteric site is located within the γ-secretase complex, but substrate docking is needed for γ-secretase modulators to access this site.
γ-Secretase modulators have promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, but their molecular target is uncertain. Here, fluorescence resonance energy transfer is used to determine that the γ-secretase allosteric site is within the γ-secretase complex and that substrate docking is required for modulators to access the site.
Presenilins were first discovered as sites of missense mutations responsible for early-onset Alzheimer disease (AD). The encoded multipass membrane proteins were subsequently found to be the catalytic components of γ-secretases, membrane-embedded aspartyl protease complexes responsible for generating the carboxyl terminus of the amyloid β-protein (Aβ) from the amyloid protein precursor (APP). The protease complex also cleaves a variety of other type I integral membrane proteins, most notably the Notch receptor, signaling from which is involved in many cell differentiation events. Although γ-secretase is a top target for developing disease-modifying AD therapeutics, interference with Notch signaling should be avoided. Compounds that alter Aβ production by γ-secretase without affecting Notch proteolysis and signaling have been identified and are currently at various stages in the drug development pipeline.
γ-Secretases produce amyloid β-protein in Alzheimer disease, but they also regulate Notch signaling. Drugs that alter amyloid β-protein production without affecting Notch signaling are currently under development.
The amyloid β-peptide (Aβ), strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is produced from the amyloid β-protein precursor (APP) through consecutive proteolysis by β- and γ-secretases. The latter protease contains presenilin as the catalytic component of a membrane-embedded aspartyl protease complex. Missense mutations in presenilin are associated with early-onset familial AD, and these mutations generally both decrease Aβ production and increase the proportion of the aggregation-prone 42-residue form (Aβ42) over the 40-residue form (Aβ40). The connection between these two effects is not understood. Besides Aβ40 and Aβ42, γ-secretase produces a range of Aβ peptides, the result of initial cutting at the ε site to form Aβ48 or Aβ49 and subsequent trimming every 3–4 residues. Thus, γ-secretase displays both overall proteolytic activity (ε cutting) and processivity (trimming) toward its substrate APP. Here we tested whether a decrease in total activity correlates with decreased processivity using wild type and AD-mutant presenilin-containing protease complexes. Changes in pH, temperature and salt concentration that reduced overall activity of the wild type enzyme did not consistently result in increased proportions of longer Aβ peptides. Low salt concentrations and acidic pH were notable exceptions that subtly alter the proportion of individual Aβ peptides, suggesting that the charged state of certain residues may influence processivity. Five different AD-mutant complexes, representing a broad range of effects on overall activity, Aβ42-to-Aβ40 ratios, and ages of disease onset were also tested, revealing again that changes in total activity and processivity can be dissociated. Factors that control initial proteolysis of APP at the ε site apparently differ significantly from factors affecting subsequent trimming and the distribution of Aβ peptides.
Presenilin-dependent γ-secretase cleavage of several transmembrane proteins, including amyloid-β precursor protein and Notch, mediates the intramembrane proteolysis to liberate their intracellular domains that are involved in cellular signaling. Considering γ-secretase inhibitors as therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease, understanding the physiologically and biologically important substrate for γ-secretase activity in brains is emerging issue. To elucidate the molecular mechanism and physiological role of γ-secretase, we screened candidate molecules for γ-secretase substrates.
We show that ephrin-B1, that participates in cell-cell repulsive and attractive signaling together with its Eph receptor, constitutively undergoes ectodomain shedding and that the residual membrane-tethered fragment is sequentially cleaved by γ-secretase to release the intracellular domain. Furthermore, overexpression of membrane-tethered ephrin-B1 caused protrusion of numerous cellular processes consisted of F-actin, that required the preservation of the most C-terminal region of ephrin-B1. In contrast, soluble intracellular domain translocated into the nucleus and had no effect on cell morphology.
Our findings suggest that ephrin-B is a genuine substrate for γ-secretase and regulates the cytoskeletal dynamics through intramembrane proteolysis.
γ-Secretase is a membrane embedded aspartyl protease complex with presenilin as the catalytic component. Along with β-secretase, this enzyme produces the amyloid β-protein (Aβ) of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from the amyloid β-protein precursor (APP). Because of its key role in the pathogenesis of AD, γ-secretase has been a prime target for drug discovery, and many inhibitors of this protease have been developed. The therapeutic potential of these inhibitors is virtually negated by the fact that γ-secretase is an essential part of the Notch signaling pathway, rendering the compounds unacceptably toxic upon chronic exposure. However, these compounds have served as useful chemical tools for biological investigations. In contrast, γ-secretase modulators continue to be of keen interest as possible AD therapeutics. These modulators either shift Aβ production to shorter, less pathogenic peptides or inhibit the proteolysis of APP selectively compared to that of Notch. The various chemical types of inhibitors and modulators will be discussed, along with their use as probes for basic biology and their potential as AD therapeutics.
protease; amyloid; active site; docking site; allosteric sites; chemical probes
The 4 kDa amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) is strongly implicated the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and this peptide is cut out of the amyloid β-protein precursor (APP) by the sequential action of β- and γ-secretases. γ-Secretase is a membrane-embedded protease complex that cleaves the transmembrane region of APP to produce Aβ, and this protease is a top target for developing AD therapeutics. A number of inhibitors of the γ-secretase complex have been identified, including peptidomimetics that block the active site, helical peptides that interact with the initial substrate docking site, and other less peptide-like, more drug-like compounds. To date, one γ-secretase inhibitor has advanced into late-phase clinical trials for the treatment of AD, but serious concerns remain. The γ-secretase complex cleaves a number of other substrates, and γ-secretase inhibitors cause in vivo toxicities by blocking proteolysis of one essential substrate, the Notch receptor. Thus, compounds that modulate γ-secretase, rather than inhibit it, to selectively alter Aβ production without hindering signal transduction from the Notch receptor would be more ideal. Such modulators have been discovered and advanced, with one compound in late-phase clinical trials, renewing interest in γ-secretase as a therapeutic target.
Secondary active transporters from several protein families share a core of two five-helix inverted repeats that has become known as the LeuT fold. The known high-resolution protein structures with this fold were analyzed by structural superposition of the core transmembrane domains (TMDs). Three angle parameters derived from the mean TMD axes correlate with accessibility of the central binding site from the outside or inside. Structural transitions between distinct conformations were analyzed for four proteins in terms of changes in relative TMD arrangement and in internal conformation of TMDs. Collectively moving groups of TMDs were found to be correlated in the covariance matrix of elastic network models. The main features of the structural transitions can be reproduced with the 5 % slowest normal modes of anisotropic elastic network models. These results support the rocking bundle model for the major conformational change between the outward- and inward-facing states of the protein and point to an important role for the independently moving last TMDs of each repeat in occluding access to the central binding site. Occlusion is also supported by flexing of some individual TMDs in the collectively moving bundle and hash motifs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00249-012-0802-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Membrane proteins; Secondary active transport; Elastic network models; Protein structure; Protein dynamics
γ-Secretase cleaves the carboxyl-terminal fragment (βCTF) of APP not only in the middle of the transmembrane domain (γ-cleavage), but also at sites close to the membrane/cytoplasm boundary (ε-cleavage), to produce the amyloid β protein (Aβ) and the APP intracellular domain (AICD), respectively. The AICD49–99 and AICD50–99 species were identified as counterparts of the long Aβ species Aβ48 and Aβ49, respectively. We found that Aβ40 and AICD50–99 were the predominant species in cells expressing wild-type APP and presenilin, whereas the production of Aβ42 and AICD49–99 was enhanced in cells expressing familial Alzheimer's disease mutants of APP and presenilin. These long Aβ species were identified in cell lysates and mouse brain extracts, which suggests that ε-cleavage is the first cleavage of βCTF to produce Aβ by γ-secretase. Here, we review the progress of research on the mechanism underlying the proteolysis of the APP transmembrane domain based on tri- and tetrapeptide release.
γ-Secretase is an unusual protease with an intramembrane catalytic site that cleaves many type I membrane proteins, including the amyloid β-protein (Aβ) precursor (APP) and the Notch receptor. Genetic and biochemical studies have identified four membrane proteins as components of γ-secretase: heterodimeric presenilin composed of its N- and C-terminal fragments, nicastrin, Aph-1, and Pen-2. Here we demonstrated that certain compounds, including protein kinase inhibitors and their derivatives, act directly on purified γ-secretase to selectively block cleavage of APP- but not Notch-based substrates. Moreover, ATP activated the generation of the APP intracellular domain and Aβ, but not the generation of the Notch intracellular domain by the purified protease complex, and was a direct competitor of the APP-selective inhibitors, as were other nucleotides. In accord, purified γ-secretase bound specifically to an ATP-linked resin. Finally, a photoactivable ATP analog specifically labeled presenilin 1-C-terminal fragments in purified γ-secretase preparations; the labeling was blocked by ATP itself and APP-selective γ-secretase inhibitors. We concluded that a nucleotide-binding site exists within γ-secretase, and certain compounds that bind to this site can specifically modulate the generation of Aβ while sparing Notch. Drugs targeting the γ-secretase nucleotide-binding site represent an attractive strategy for safely treating Alzheimer disease.
Several familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) mutations within the transmembrane region of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) increase the Aβ42/40 ratio without increasing total Aβ production. In the present study, we analyzed the impact of FAD mutations and γ-secretase modulators (GSMs) that alter the Aβ42/40 ratio on APP C-terminus (CT) positioning relative to the membrane, reasoning that changes in the alignment of the APP intramembranous domain and presenilin 1 (PS1) may impact the PS1/γ-secretase cleavage site on APP.
By using a Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based technique, fluorescent lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), we show that Aβ42/40 ratio-modulating factors which target either APP substrate or PS1/γ-secretase affect proximity of the APP-CT to the membrane and change PS1 conformation.
Thus, we propose that there is a reciprocal relationship between APP-CT positioning relative to the membrane and PS1 conformation, suggesting that factors that modulate either APP positioning in the membrane or PS1 conformation could be exploited therapeutically.
Tail-anchored (TA) proteins represent a unique class of membrane proteins that contain a single C-terminal transmembrane helix. The post-translational insertion of the yeast TA proteins into the ER membrane requires the Golgi ER trafficking (GET) complex which contains Get1, Get2 and Get3. Get3 is an ATPase that recognizes and binds the C-terminal transmembrane domain (TMD) of the TA proteins. We have determined the crystal structures of Get3 from two yeast species, S. cerevisiae and D. hansenii, respectively. These high resolution crystal structures show that Get3 contains a nucleotide-binding domain and a “finger” domain for binding the TA protein TMD. A large hydrophobic groove on the finger domain of S. cerevisiae Get3 structure might represent the binding site for TMD of TA proteins. A hydrophobic helix from a symmetry-related Get3 molecule sits in the TMD-binding groove and mimics the TA binding scenario. Interestingly, the crystal structures of the Get3 dimers from S. cerevisiae and D. hansenii exhibit distinct conformations. The S. cerevisiae Get3 dimer structure does not contain nucleotides and maintains an “open” conformation, while the D. hansenii Get3 dimer structure binds ADP and stays in a “closed” conformation. We propose that the conformational changes to switch the Get3 between the open and closed conformations may facilitate the membrane insertions for TA proteins.
Presenilin 1(PS1) is the catalytic subunit of γ-secretase, the enzyme responsible for the Aβ C-terminal cleavage site, which results in the production of Aβ peptides of various lengths. Production of longer forms of the Aβ peptide occur in patients with autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease (AD) due to mutations in presenilin. Many modulators of γ-secretase function have been described. We hypothesize that these modulators act by a common mechanism by allosterically modifying the structure of presenilin.
To test this hypothesis we generated a genetically encoded GFP-PS1-RFP (G-PS1-R) FRET probe that allows monitoring of the conformation of the PS1 molecule in its native environment in live cells. We show that G-PS1-R can be incorporated into the γ-secretase complex, reconstituting its activity in PS1/2 deficient cells. Using Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based approaches we show that various pharmacological and genetic manipulations that target either γ-secretase components (PS1, Pen2, Aph1) or γ-secretase substrate (amyloid precursor protein, APP) and are known to change Aβ42 production are associated with a consistent conformational change in PS1.
These results strongly support the hypothesis that allosteric changes in PS1 conformation underlie changes in the Aβ42/40 ratio. Direct measurement of physiological and pathological changes in the conformation of PS1/γ-secretase may provide insight into molecular mechanism of Aβ42 generation, which could be exploited therapeutically.
The amyloid-β peptide (Aβ), implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), is produced through sequential proteolysis of the Aβ precursor protein (APP) by β- and γ-secretases. Thus, blocking either of these two proteases, directly or indirectly, is potentially worthwhile toward developing AD therapeutics. β-Secretase is a membrane-tethered pepsin-like aspartyl protease suitable for structure-based design, whereas γ-secretase is an unusual, heterotetrameric membrane-embedded aspartyl protease. While γ-secretase inhibitors entered clinical trials first due to their superior pharmacological properties (for example, brain penetration) over β-secretase inhibitors, it has since become clear that γ-secretase inhibitors can cause mechanism-based toxicities owing to interference with the proteolysis of another γ-secretase substrate, the Notch receptor. Strategies for targeting Aβ production at the γ-secretase level without blocking Notch signalling will be discussed. Other strategies utilizing cell-based screening have led to the identification of novel Aβ lowering agents that likewise leave Notch proteolysis intact. The mechanism by which these agents lower Aβ is unknown, but these compounds may ultimately reveal new targets for AD therapeutics.
The presenilins are transmembrane proteins that, as part of a large protein complex, regulate the cleavage of other transmembrane proteins, notably the receptor Notch and the β-amyloid precursor protein. Mutations in presenilin genes increase the production of neurotoxic forms of the amyloid β peptide and contribute to 20-50% of early-onset cases of inherited Alzheimer's disease.
The presenilins are evolutionarily conserved transmembrane proteins that regulate cleavage of certain other proteins in their transmembrane domains. The clinical significance of this regulation is shown by the contribution of presenilin mutations to 20-50% of early-onset cases of inherited Alzheimer's disease. Although the precise molecular mechanism underlying presenilin function or dysfunction remains elusive, presenilins are thought to be part of a complex of proteins that has 'γ-secretase cleavage' activity, which is clearly central in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Mutations in presenilins increase the production of the longer isoforms of amyloid β peptide, which are neurotoxic and prone to self-aggregation. Biochemical studies indicate that the presenilins do not act alone but operate within large heteromeric protein complexes, whose components and enzymatic core are the subject of much study and controversy; one essential component is nicastrin. The presenilin primary sequence is remarkably well conserved in eukaryotes, suggesting some functional conservation; indeed, defects caused by mutations in the nemotode presenilin homolog can be rescued by human presenilin.
The presenilin/γ-secretase complex, an unusual intramembrane aspartyl protease, plays an essential role in cellular signaling and membrane protein turnover. Its ability to liberate numerous intracellular signaling proteins from the membrane and also mediate the secretion of amyloid-β protein (Aβ) has made modulation of γ-secretase activity a therapeutic goal for cancer and Alzheimer disease. Although the proteolysis of the prototypical substrates Notch and β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) has been intensely studied, the full spectrum of substrates and the determinants that make a transmembrane protein a substrate remain unclear. Using an unbiased approach to substrate identification, we surveyed the proteome of a human cell line for targets of γ-secretase and found a relatively small population of new substrates, all of which are type I transmembrane proteins but have diverse biological roles. By comparing these substrates to type I proteins not regulated by γ-secretase, we determined that besides a short ectodomain, γ-secretase requires permissive transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains to bind and cleave its substrates. In addition, we provide evidence for at least two mechanisms that can target a substrate for γ cleavage: one in which a substrate with a short ectodomain is directly cleaved independent of sheddase association, and a second where a substrate requires ectodomain shedding to instruct subsequent γ-secretase processing. These findings expand our understanding of the mechanisms of substrate selection as well as the diverse cellular processes to which γ-secretase contributes.
All cells face the challenge of removing transmembrane proteins from the lipid bilayer for the purpose of signaling or degradation. One molecular solution to this problem is the multiprotein enzyme complex γ-secretase, which is able to hydrolyze several known transmembrane proteins within the hydrophobic lipid environment. Due to its central role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease, modulation of γ-secretase activity has become a therapeutic goal. However, the number and diversity of proteins that can be cleaved by this protease remain unknown, and the attributes that target these proteins to γ-secretase are unclear. In this study, we used an unbiased approach to substrate identification and surveyed the proteome for targets of γ-secretase. Of the thousands of proteins detectable, only a relative few were substrates of γ-secretase, all of which were type I transmembrane proteins. In addition to validating several of these novel substrates, we compared them to other proteins that we identified as nonsubstrates and determined that there are specific domains that can activate or inhibit γ-secretase processing. These findings should advance our understanding of the many cellular processes regulated by γ-secretase and may offer insights into how γ-secretase can be exploited for therapeutic purposes.
Using an unbiased quantitative proteomics approach, novel substrate targets for the protease γ-secretase are identified and analyzed to determine which domains enable their cleavage.
The γ-secretase complex, consisting of presenilin, nicastrin, presenilin enhancer-2 (PEN-2), and anterior pharynx defective-1 (APH-1) cleaves type I integral membrane proteins like amyloid precursor protein and Notch in a process of regulated intramembrane proteolysis. The regulatory mechanisms governing the multistep assembly of this “proteasome of the membrane” are unknown. We characterize a new interaction partner of nicastrin, the retrieval receptor Rer1p. Rer1p binds preferentially immature nicastrin via polar residues within its transmembrane domain that are also critical for interaction with APH-1. Absence of APH-1 substantially increased binding of nicastrin to Rer1p, demonstrating the competitive nature of these interactions. Moreover, Rer1p expression levels control the formation of γ-secretase subcomplexes and, concomitantly, total cellular γ-secretase activity. We identify Rer1p as a novel limiting factor that negatively regulates γ-secretase complex assembly by competing with APH-1 during active recycling between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi. We conclude that total cellular γ-secretase activity is restrained by a secondary ER control system that provides a potential therapeutic value.
Complexes involved in the γ/ϵ-secretase-regulated intramembranous proteolysis of substrates such as the amyloid-β precursor protein are composed primarily of presenilin (PS1 or PS2), nicastrin, anterior pharynx defective-1 (APH1), and PEN2. The presenilin aspartyl residues form the catalytic site, and similar potentially functional polar transmembrane residues in APH1 have been identified. Substitution of charged (E84A, R87A) or polar (Q83A) residues in TM3 had no effect on complex assembly or activity. In contrast, changes to either of two highly conserved histidines (H171A, H197A) located in TM5 and TM6 negatively affected PS1 cleavage and altered binding to other secretase components, resulting in decreased amyloid generating activity. Charge replacement with His-to-Lys substitutions rescued nicastrin maturation and PS1 endoproteolysis leading to assembly of the formation of structurally normal but proteolytically inactive γ-secretase complexes. Substitution with a negatively charged side chain (His-to-Asp) or altering the structural location of the histidines also disrupted γ-secretase binding and abolished functionality of APH1. These results suggest that the conserved transmembrane histidine residues contribute to APH1 function and can affect presenilin catalytic activity.
Presenilin is a central, catalytic component of the γ-secretase complex which conducts intramembrane cleavage of various protein substrates. Although identified and mainly studied through its role in the development of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer disease, γ-secretase has many other important functions. The complex seems to be evolutionary conserved throughout the Metazoa, but recent findings in plants and Dictyostelium discoideum as well as in archeons suggest that its evolution and functions might be much more diversified than previously expected. In this review, a selective survey of the multitude of functions of presenilins and the γ-secretase complex is presented. Following a brief overview of γ-secretase structure, assembly and maturation, three functional aspects are analyzed: (1) the role of γ-secretase in autophagy and phagocytosis; (2) involvement of the complex in signaling related to endocytosis; and (3) control of calcium fluxes by presenilins.
Presenilin; Gamma-secretase; Alzheimer disease; Complex assembly and maturation; Proteolytic activity; Biological functions; Endocytosis; Calcium homeostasis; Autophagy
Presenilins (PS) are the catalytic components of γ-secretase, an aspartyl protease that regulates through proteolytic processing the function of multiple signaling proteins. Specially relevant is the γ-secretase-dependent cleavage of the β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) since generates the β-amyloid (Aβ) peptides that aggregate and accumulate in the brain of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. Abnormal processing and/or accumulation of Aβ disrupt synaptic and metabolic processes leading to neuron dysfunction and neurodegeneration. Studies in presenilin conditional knockout mice have revealed that presenilin-1 is essential for age-dependent Aβ accumulation and inflammation. By contrast, mutations in the presenilin genes responsible for early onset familial AD cause rapid disease progression and accentuate clinical and pathological features including inflammation. In addition, a number of loss of function mutations in presenilin-1 have been recently associated to non-Alzheimer's dementias including frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. In agreement, total loss of presenilin function in the brain results in striking neurodegeneration and inflammation, which includes activation of glial cells and induction of proinflammatory genes, besides altered inflammatory responses in the periphery. Interestingly, some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that slow cognitive decline and reduce the risk of AD, decrease amyloidogenic Aβ42 levels by modulating allosterically PS/γ-secretase. In this review, I present current evidence supporting a role of presenilin/γ-secretase signaling on gliogenesis and gliosis in normal and pathological conditions. Understanding the cellular mechanisms regulated by presenilin/γ-secretase during chronic inflammatory processes may provide new approaches for the development of effective therapeutic strategies for AD.
neuroinflammation; Alzheimer's disease; neurodegeneration; frontotemporal dementia; amyloid; Notch; NSAID
The γ-secretase complex cleaves the carboxy-terminal 99 residue (C99) fragment of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) to generate the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide. The catalytic activity of this complex is mediated either by the presenilin-1 (PS1) or the presenilin-2 (PS2) subunit. In vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that PS1-containing complexes generate more total Aβ product than PS2-containing complexes, indicating greater cleavage activity by PS1-containing γ-secretase complexes at the APP γ-site. However, it remains untested whether γ-secretase cleavage at the APP ε-site, which precedes γ-site cleavage and produces the physiologically active APP intracellular domain (AICD), follows the same rule. Using a novel Swedish APP-GVP substrate to facilitate the parallel detection of Aβ and AICD products from PS1-/-/PS2-/- cells co-transfected with either PS1 or PS2, we observed that while PS1 generates more total Aβ product than PS2, consistent with published reports, PS1 and PS2 unexpectedly generate equal amounts of AICD product. We also observed that PS1 and PS2 produce equivalent amounts of Notch intracellular domain (NICD), indicating equal cleavage activity at the Notch S3-site (the corollary of the APP ε-site). Our findings suggest that processivity differences between PS1 and PS2 underlie the differential production of Aβ peptide. Taken together these findings offer novel insights into γ-secretase biology and have important implications for therapeutically targeting γ-secretase
Aβ; AICD; γ-secretase; NICD; PS1; PS2; processivity.
The deposition of toxic amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) aggregates in the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The intramembrane proteolysis by γ-secretase of the amyloid precursor protein carboxy-terminal fragment (APP-βCTF) constitutes the final step in the production of Aβs. Mounting evidence suggests that APP-βCTF is a transmembrane domain (TMD) dimer, and that dimerization might modulate the production of Aβ species that are prone to aggregation, and therefore most toxic. We combined experimental and computational approaches to study the molecular determinants and thermodynamics of APP-βCTF dimerization, and produced a unifying structural model that reconciles much of the published data. Using a cell assay, which exploits a dimerization-dependent activator of transcription, we identified specific dimerization-disrupting mutations located mostly at the N-terminus of the TMD of APP-βCTF. The ability of selected mutants to disrupt the dimerization of full length APP-βCTF was confirmed by fluorescence resonance energy transfer experiments. Free-energy estimates of wild-type (WT) and mutants of the TMD of APP-βCTF derived from enhanced molecular dynamics simulations showed that the dimeric state is comprised of different arrangements, in which either 709GXXXA713 or 700GXXXG704GXXXG708 interaction motifs can engage in symmetric or asymmetric associations. Mutations along the TMD of APP-βCTF were found to modulate the relative free energy of the dimeric configurations, and to differently affect the distribution of interfaces within the dimeric state. This observation might have important biological implications, since dimers with a different arrangement of the transmembrane helices are likely to be recognized differently by γ-secretase and lead to a variation of Aβ levels.
molecular dynamics; TOXCAT; FRET; metadynamics; amyloid-β peptide