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2.  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.
PMCID: PMC3753469  PMID: 23820808
Alzheimer’s disease; BACE1; β-Secretase; Aβ; Amyloid plaque; Dystrophic neurite; Lysosome; Autophagy
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC3226309  PMID: 21639952

Results 1-3 (3)