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1.  Presynaptic dystrophic neurites surrounding amyloid plaques are sites of microtubule disruption, BACE1 elevation, and increased Aβ generation in Alzheimer’s disease 
Acta Neuropathologica  2016;132:235-256.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by amyloid plaques composed of the β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide surrounded by swollen presynaptic dystrophic neurites consisting of dysfunctional axons and terminals that accumulate the β-site amyloid precursor protein (APP) cleaving enzyme (BACE1) required for Aβ generation. The cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern presynaptic dystrophic neurite formation are unclear, and elucidating these processes may lead to novel AD therapeutic strategies. Previous studies suggest Aβ may disrupt microtubules, which we hypothesize have a critical role in the development of presynaptic dystrophies. To investigate this further, here we have assessed the effects of Aβ, particularly neurotoxic Aβ42, on microtubules during the formation of presynaptic dystrophic neurites in vitro and in vivo. Live-cell imaging of primary neurons revealed that exposure to Aβ42 oligomers caused varicose and beaded neurites with extensive microtubule disruption, and inhibited anterograde and retrograde trafficking. In brain sections from AD patients and the 5XFAD transgenic mouse model of amyloid pathology, dystrophic neurite halos with BACE1 elevation around amyloid plaques exhibited aberrant tubulin accumulations or voids. At the ultrastructural level, peri-plaque dystrophies were strikingly devoid of microtubules and replete with multi-lamellar vesicles resembling autophagic intermediates. Proteins of the microtubule motors, kinesin and dynein, and other neuronal proteins were aberrantly localized in peri-plaque dystrophies. Inactive pro-cathepsin D also accumulated in peri-plaque dystrophies, indicating reduced lysosomal function. Most importantly, BACE1 accumulation in peri-plaque dystrophies caused increased BACE1 cleavage of APP and Aβ generation. Our study supports the hypothesis that Aβ induces microtubule disruption in presynaptic dystrophic neurites that surround plaques, thus impairing axonal transport and leading to accumulation of BACE1 and exacerbation of amyloid pathology in AD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-016-1558-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00401-016-1558-9
PMCID: PMC4947125  PMID: 26993139
Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid; Aβ; BACE1; Dystrophic neurite; Microtubule; Tubulin; Axonal transport; Cathepsin D; 5XFAD mice
2.  Melatonin Signal Transduction Pathways Require E-Box-Mediated Transcription of Per1 and Per2 to Reset the SCN Clock at Dusk 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(6):e0157824.
Melatonin is released from the pineal gland into the circulatory system at night in the absence of light, acting as “hormone of darkness” to the brain and body. Melatonin also can regulate circadian phasing of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). During the day-to-night transition, melatonin exposure advances intrinsic SCN neural activity rhythms via the melatonin type-2 (MT2) receptor and downstream activation of protein kinase C (PKC). The effects of melatonin on SCN phasing have not been linked to daily changes in the expression of core genes that constitute the molecular framework of the circadian clock. Using real-time RT-PCR, we found that melatonin induces an increase in the expression of two clock genes, Period 1 (Per1) and Period 2 (Per2). This effect occurs at CT 10, when melatonin advances SCN phase, but not at CT 6, when it does not. Using anti-sense oligodeoxynucleotides (α ODNs) to Per 1 and Per 2, as well as to E-box enhancer sequences in the promoters of these genes, we show that their specific induction is necessary for the phase-altering effects of melatonin on SCN neural activity rhythms in the rat. These effects of melatonin on Per1 and Per2 were mediated by PKC. This is unlike day-active non-photic signals that reset the SCN clock by non-PCK signal transduction mechanisms and by decreasing Per1 expression. Rather, this finding extends roles for Per1 and Per2, which are critical to photic phase-resetting, to a nonphotic zeitgeber, melatonin, and suggest that the regulation of these clock gene transcripts is required for clock resetting by diverse regulatory cues.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157824
PMCID: PMC4928778  PMID: 27362940
3.  The Normal and Pathologic Roles of the Alzheimer's β-secretase, BACE1 
Current Alzheimer research  2014;11(5):441-449.
As the most common neurodegenerative disease, therapeutic avenues for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's Disease are highly sought after. The aspartic protease BACE1 is the initiator enzyme for the formation of Aβ, a major constituent of amyloid plaques that represent one of the hallmark pathological features of this disorder. Thus, targeting BACE1 for disease-modifying AD therapies represents a rationale approach. The collective knowledge acquired from investigations of BACE1 deletion mutants and characterization of BACE1 substrates has downstream significance not only for the discovery of AD drug therapies but also for predicting side effects of BACE1 inhibition. Here we discuss the identification and validation of BACE1 as the β-secretase implicated in AD, in addition to information regarding BACE1 cell biology, localization, substrates and potential physiological functions derived from BACE1 knockout models.
PMCID: PMC4401991  PMID: 24893886
Alzheimer's disease; BACE1; beta-secretase
5.  The Alzheimer’s β-secretase BACE1 localizes to normal presynaptic terminals and to dystrophic presynaptic terminals surrounding amyloid plaques 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;126(3):329-352.
β-Site amyloid precursor protein (APP) cleaving enzyme-1 (BACE1) is the β-secretase that initiates Aβ production in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). BACE1 levels are increased in AD, which could contribute to pathogenesis, yet the mechanism of BACE1 elevation is unclear. Furthermore, the normal function of BACE1 is poorly understood. We localized BACE1 in the brain at both the light and electron microscopic levels to gain insight into normal and pathophysiologic roles of BACE1 in health and AD, respectively. Our findings provide the first ultrastructural evidence that BACE1 localizes to vesicles (likely endosomes) in normal hippocampal mossy fiber terminals of both non-transgenic and APP transgenic (5XFAD) mouse brains. In some instances, BACE1-positive vesicles were located near active zones, implying a function for BACE1 at the synapse. In addition, BACE1 accumulated in swollen dystrophic autophagosome-poor presynaptic terminals surrounding amyloid plaques in 5XFAD cortex and hippocampus. Importantly, accumulations of BACE1 and APP co-localized in presynaptic dystrophies, implying increased BACE1 processing of APP in peri-plaque regions. In primary cortical neuron cultures, treatment with the lysosomal protease inhibitor leupeptin caused BACE1 levels to increase; however, exposure of neurons to the autophagy inducer trehalose did not reduce BACE1 levels. This suggests that BACE1 is degraded by lysosomes but not by autophagy. Our results imply that BACE1 elevation in AD could be linked to decreased lysosomal degradation of BACE1 within dystrophic presynaptic terminals. Elevated BACE1 and APP levels in plaque-associated presynaptic dystrophies could increase local peri-plaque Aβ generation and accelerate amyloid plaque growth in AD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1152-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1152-3
PMCID: PMC3753469  PMID: 23820808
Alzheimer’s disease; BACE1; β-Secretase; Aβ; Amyloid plaque; Dystrophic neurite; Lysosome; Autophagy
6.  The β-secretase enzyme BACE1 as a therapeutic target for Alzheimer's disease 
Amyloid plaques are defining histopathologic lesions in the brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and are composed of the amyloid-beta peptide, which is widely considered to play a critical role in the pathogenesis of AD. The β-secretase, or β-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1; also called Asp2, memapsin 2), is the enzyme that initiates the generation of amyloid beta. Consequently, BACE1 is an attractive drug target for lowering cerebral levels of amyloid beta for the treatment or prevention of AD. Much has been learned about BACE1 since its discovery over 10 years ago. In the present article, we review BACE1 properties and characteristics, cell biology, in vivo validation, substrates, therapeutic potential, and inhibitor drug development. Studies relating to the physiological functions of BACE1 and the promise of BACE1 inhibition for AD will also be discussed. We conclude that therapeutic inhibition of BACE1 should be efficacious for AD, although careful titration of the drug dose may be necessary to limit mechanism-based side effects.
doi:10.1186/alzrt82
PMCID: PMC3226309  PMID: 21639952

Results 1-6 (6)