Early endosomal changes, a prominent pathology in neurons early in Alzheimer’s disease, also occur in neurons and peripheral tissues in Down syndrome. While in Down syndrome models increased amyloid-β protein precursor (AβPP) expression is known to be a necessary contributor on the trisomic background to this early endosomal pathology, increased AβPP alone has yet to be shown to be sufficient to drive early endosomal alterations in neurons. Comparing two AβPP transgenic mouse models, one that contains the AβPP Swedish K670N/M671L double mutation at the β-cleavage site (APP23) and one that has the AβPP London V717I mutation near the γ-cleavage site (APPLd2), we show significantly altered early endosome morphology in fronto-parietal neurons as well as enlargement of early endosomes in basal forebrain cholinergic neurons of the medial septal nucleus in the APP23 model, which has the higher levels of AβPP β-C-terminal fragment (βCTF) accumulation. Early endosomal changes correlate with a marked loss of the cholinergic population, which is consistent with the known dependence of the large projection cholinergic cells on endosome-mediated retrograde neurotrophic transport. Our findings support the idea that increased expression of AβPP and AβPP metabolites in neurons is sufficient to drive early endosomal abnormalities in vivo, and that disruption of the endocytic system is likely to contribute to basal forebrain cholinergic vulnerability.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β protein precursor; cholinergic neurons; endocytosis; endosomes; septal nuclei
The histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease (AD) include intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles composed of abnormally hyperphosphorylated τ protein. Insulin dysfunction might influence AD pathology, as population-based and cohort studies have detected higher AD incidence rates in diabetic patients. But how diabetes affects τ pathology is not fully understood. In this study, we investigated the impact of insulin dysfunction on τ phosphorylation in a genetic model of spontaneous type 1 diabetes: the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse. Brains of young and adult female NOD mice were examined, but young NOD mice did not display τ hyperphosphorylation. τ phosphorylation at τ-1 and pS422 epitopes was slightly increased in nondiabetic adult NOD mice. At the onset of diabetes, τ was hyperphosphorylated at the τ-1, AT8, CP13, pS262, and pS422. A subpopulation of diabetic NOD mice became hypothermic, and τ hyperphosphorylation further extended to paired helical filament-1 and TG3 epitopes. Furthermore, elevated τ phosphorylation correlated with an inhibition of protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) activity. Our data indicate that insulin dysfunction in NOD mice leads to AD-like τ hyperphosphorylation in the brain, with molecular mechanisms likely involving a deregulation of PP2A. This model may be a useful tool to address further mechanistic association between insulin dysfunction and AD pathology.
Olfaction is often impaired in Alzheimer‟s disease (AD) and is also dysfunctional in mouse models of the disease. We recently demonstrated that short-term passive anti-murine-Aβ immunization can rescue olfactory behavior in the Tg2576 mouse model overexpressing a human mutation of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) after β-amyloid deposition. Here we tested the ability to preserve normal olfactory behaviors by means of long-term passive anti-murine-Aβ immunization. Seven-month-old Tg2576 and non-transgenic littermate (NTg) mice were IP-injected biweekly with the m3.2 murine-Aβ-specific antibody until 16 months of age when mice were tested in the odor habituation test. While Tg2576 mice treated with a control antibody showed elevations in odor investigation times and impaired odor habituation compared to NTg, olfactory behavior was preserved to NTg levels in m3.2-immunized Tg2576 mice. Immunized Tg2576 mice had significantly less β-amyloid immunolabeling in the olfactory bulb and entorhinal cortex, yet showed elevations in Thioflavin-S labeled plaques in the piriform cortex. No detectable changes in APP metabolite levels other than Aβ were found following m3.2 immunization. These results demonstrate efficacy of chronic, long-term anti-murine-Aβ m3.2 immunization in preserving normal odor-guided behaviors in a human APP Tg model. Further, these results provide mechanistic insights into olfactory dysfunction as a biomarker for AD by yielding evidence that focal reductions of Aβ may be sufficient to preserve olfaction.
Olfaction; Neurodegeneration; Alzheimer's disease; amyloid-beta; APP; immunization
While anti-human-Aβ immunotherapy clears brain β-amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease (AD), targeting additional brain plaque constituents to promote clearance has not been attempted. Endogenous murine Aβ is a minor β-amyloid plaque component in amyloid precursor protein transgenic AD models, which we show is ~2–8% of the total accumulated Aβ in various human APP transgenic mice. Murine Aβ co-deposits and co-localizes with human Aβ in amyloid plaques and the two Aβ species co-immunoprecipitate together from brain extracts. In the human APP transgenic mice Tg2576, passive immunization for eight weeks with a murine-Aβ-specific antibody reduced β-plaque pathology, robustly decreasing both murine and human Aβ levels. The immunized mice additionally showed improvements in two behavioral assays, odor habituation and nesting behavior. We conclude that passive anti-murine-Aβ immunization clears β-amyloid plaque pathology – including the major human Aβ component – and decreases behavioral deficits, arguing that targeting minor, endogenous brain plaque constituents can be beneficial, broadening the range of plaque-associated targets for AD therapeutics.
Alzheimer's disease; Aβ; co-deposition; immunization; immunotherapy
We report that neuronal overexpression of the endogenous inhibitor of calpains, calpastatin (CAST), in a mouse model of human Alzheimer’s disease (AD) β-amyloidosis, the APP23 mouse, reduces β-amyloid pathology and Aβ levels when comparing aged, double transgenic (tg) APP23/CAST with APP23 mice. Concurrent with Aβ plaque deposition, aged APP23/CAST mice show a decrease in the steady-state brain levels of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and APP C-terminal fragments when compared to APP23 mice. This CAST-dependent decrease in APP metabolite levels was not observed in single tg CAST mice expressing endogenous APP or in younger, Aβ plaque predepositing APP23/CAST mice. We also determined that the CAST-mediated inhibition of calpain activity in the brain is greater in the CAST mice with β-amyloid pathology than in non-APP tg mice, as demonstrated by a decrease in calpain-mediated cytoskeleton protein cleavage. Moreover, aged APP23/CAST mice have reduced ERK1/2 activity and tau phosphorylation when compared to APP23 mice. In summary, in vivo calpain inhibition mediated by CAST transgene expression reduces Aβ pathology in APP23 mice, with our findings further suggesting that APP metabolism is modified by CAST overexpression as the mice develop β-amyloid pathology. Our results indicate that the calpain system in neurons is more responsive to CAST inhibition under conditions of β-amyloid pathology, suggesting that in the disease state neurons may be more sensitive to the therapeutic use of calpain inhibitors.
calpain; calpastatin; APP; Aβ; Alzheimer’s disease
Background: The human genome codes for two presenilin (PS) paralogs, PS1 and PS2.
Results: PS paralogs are embedded in overlapping but distinct molecular environments, with signal peptide peptidase (SPP) primarily binding to PS2.
Conclusion: Study paves the way for understanding functional divergence of PS paralogs.
Significance: Example of an interaction between a Type I- and Type II-directed intramembrane protease.
γ-Secretase plays a pivotal role in the production of neurotoxic amyloid β-peptides (Aβ) in Alzheimer disease (AD) and consists of a heterotetrameric core complex that includes the aspartyl intramembrane protease presenilin (PS). The human genome codes for two presenilin paralogs. To understand the causes for distinct phenotypes of PS paralog-deficient mice and elucidate whether PS mutations associated with early-onset AD affect the molecular environment of mature γ-secretase complexes, quantitative interactome comparisons were undertaken. Brains of mice engineered to express wild-type or mutant PS1, or HEK293 cells stably expressing PS paralogs with N-terminal tandem-affinity purification tags served as biological source materials. The analyses revealed novel interactions of the γ-secretase core complex with a molecular machinery that targets and fuses synaptic vesicles to cellular membranes and with the H+-transporting lysosomal ATPase macrocomplex but uncovered no differences in the interactomes of wild-type and mutant PS1. The catenin/cadherin network was almost exclusively found associated with PS1. Another intramembrane protease, signal peptide peptidase, predominantly co-purified with PS2-containing γ-secretase complexes and was observed to influence Aβ production.
Alzheimers Disease; Mass Spectrometry (MS); Presenilin; Proteomics; Secretases; Transgenic; Interactome
The extensive autophagic-lysosomal pathology in Alzheimer disease (AD) brain has revealed a major defect in the proteolytic clearance of autophagy substrates. Autophagy failure contributes on several levels to AD pathogenesis and has become an important therapeutic target for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases. We recently observed broad therapeutic effects of stimulating autophagic-lysosomal proteolysis in the TgCRND8 mouse model of AD that exhibits defective proteolytic clearance of autophagic substrates, robust intralysosomal amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) accumulation, extracellular β-amyloid deposition and cognitive deficits. By genetically deleting the lysosomal cysteine protease inhibitor, cystatin B (CstB), to selectively restore depressed cathepsin activities, we substantially cleared Aβ, ubiquitinated proteins and other autophagic substrates from autolysosomes/lysosomes and rescued autophagic-lysosomal pathology, as well as reduced total Aβ40/42 levels and extracellular amyloid deposition, highlighting the underappreciated importance of the lysosomal system for Aβ clearance. Most importantly, lysosomal remediation prevented the marked learning and memory deficits in TgCRND8 mice. Our findings underscore the pathogenic significance of autophagic-lysosomal dysfunction in AD and demonstrate the value of reversing this dysfunction as an innovative therapeutic strategy for AD.
autophagy; lysosome; cathepsin; cystatin B; proteolysis; Alzheimer disease; transgenic
Several studies found that FE65, a cytoplasmic adaptor protein, interacts with APP and LRP1, altering the trafficking and processing of APP. We have previously shown that FE65 interacts with the ApoE receptor, ApoER2, altering its trafficking and processing. Interestingly, it has been shown that FE65 can act as a linker between APP and LRP1 or ApoER2. In the present study, we tested whether FE65 can interact with another ApoE receptor, VLDLR, thereby altering its trafficking and processing, and whether FE65 can serve as a linker between APP and VLDLR.
We found that FE65 interacted with VLDLR using GST pull-down and co-immunoprecipitation assays in COS7 cells and in brain lysates. This interaction occurs via the PTB1 domain of FE65. Co-transfection with FE65 and full length VLDLR increased secreted VLDLR (sVLDLR); however, the levels of VLDLR C-terminal fragment (CTF) were undetectable as a result of proteasomal degradation. Additionally, FE65 increased cell surface levels of VLDLR. Moreover, we identified a novel complex between VLDLR and APP, which altered trafficking and processing of both proteins. Furthermore, immunoprecipitation results demonstrated that the presence of FE65 increased the interaction between APP and VLDLR in vitro and in vivo.
These data suggest that FE65 can regulate VLDLR trafficking and processing. Additionally, the interaction between VLDLR and APP altered both protein's trafficking and processing. Finally, our data suggest that FE65 serves as a link between VLDLR and APP. This novel interaction adds to a growing body of literature indicating trimeric complexes with various ApoE Receptors and APP.
FE65; VLDLR; APP trafficking
The proteoloytic machinery comprising metalloproteases and γ-secretase, an intramembrane aspartyl protease involved in Alzheimer’s disease, cleaves several substrates besides the extensively studied amyloid precursor protein (APP). Some of these substrates, such as N-cadherin, are synaptic proteins involved in synapse remodeling and maintenance. Here we show, in rat and mice that metalloproteases and γ-secretase are physiologic regulators of synapses. Both proteases are synaptic, with γ-secretase tethered at the synapse by δ-catenin, a synaptic scafolding protein which also binds to N-cadherin and, through scaffolds, to α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate receptor (AMPAR) and a metalloprotease. Activity-dependent proteolysis by metalloproteases and γ-secretase takes place at both sides of the synapse, with the metalloprotease cleavage being N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor (NMDAR)-dependent. This proteolysis decreases levels of synaptic proteins and diminishes synaptic transmission. Our results suggest that activity-dependent substrate cleavage by synaptic metalloproteases and γ-secretase modifies synaptic transmission, providing a novel form of synaptic autoregulation.
Autophagy, a major degradative pathway for proteins and organelles, is essential for survival of mature neurons. Extensive autophagic-lysosomal pathology in Alzheimer’s disease brain contributes to Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis, although the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we identified and characterized marked intraneuronal amyloid-β peptide/amyloid and lysosomal system pathology in the Alzheimer’s disease mouse model TgCRND8 similar to that previously described in Alzheimer’s disease brains. We further establish that the basis for these pathologies involves defective proteolytic clearance of neuronal autophagic substrates including amyloid-β peptide. To establish the pathogenic significance of these abnormalities, we enhanced lysosomal cathepsin activities and rates of autophagic protein turnover in TgCRND8 mice by genetically deleting cystatin B, an endogenous inhibitor of lysosomal cysteine proteases. Cystatin B deletion rescued autophagic-lysosomal pathology, reduced abnormal accumulations of amyloid-β peptide, ubiquitinated proteins and other autophagic substrates within autolysosomes/lysosomes and reduced intraneuronal amyloid-β peptide. The amelioration of lysosomal function in TgCRND8 markedly decreased extracellular amyloid deposition and total brain amyloid-β peptide 40 and 42 levels, and prevented the development of deficits of learning and memory in fear conditioning and olfactory habituation tests. Our findings support the pathogenic significance of autophagic-lysosomal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease and indicate the potential value of restoring normal autophagy as an innovative therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease.
autophagy; lysosome; cystatin B; cathepsin; Alzheimer’s disease
Individuals with Down syndrome develop β-amyloid deposition characteristic of early-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) in mid-life, presumably due to an extra copy of the chromosome 21-located amyloid precursor protein (App) gene. App mRNA and APP metabolite levels were assessed in the brains of Ts65Dn mice, a mouse model of Down syndrome, using qPCR, Western blot analysis, immunoprecipitation, and ELISAs. In spite of the additional App gene copy, App mRNA, APP holoprotein, and all APP metabolite levels in the brains of 4-month-old trisomic mice were not increased compared to the levels seen in diploid littermate controls. However starting at 10 months of age, brain APP levels were increased proportional to the App gene dosage imbalance reflecting increased App message levels in Ts65Dn mice. Similar to APP, sAPPα and sAPPβ levels were increased in Ts65Dn mice compared to diploid mice at 12 months, but not at 4 months of age. Brain levels of both Aβ40 and Aβ42 were not increased in Ts65Dn mice compared with diploid mice at all ages examined. Therefore, multiple mechanisms contribute to the regulation towards diploid levels of APP metabolites in the Ts65Dn mouse brain.
amyloid precursor protein (APP); Down syndrome; animal model; trisomy; Alzheimer's disease
A role for cystatin C (CysC) in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been suggested by the genetic linkage of a CysC gene (CST3) polymorphism with late-onset AD, the co-localization of CysC with amyloid-β (Aβ) in AD brains, and binding of CysC to soluble Aβ in vitro and in mouse models of AD. This study investigates the binding between Aβ and CysC in the human central nervous system. While CysC binding to soluble Aβ was observed in AD patients and controls, a SDS-resistant CysC/Aβ complex was detected exclusively in brains of neuropathologically normal controls, but not in AD cases. The association of CysC with Aβ in brain from control individuals and in cerebrospinal fluid reveals an interaction of these two polypeptides in their soluble form. The association between Aβ and CysC prevented Aβ accumulation and fibrillogenesis in experimental systems, arguing that CysC plays a protective role in the pathogenesis of AD in humans and explains why decreases in CysC concentration caused by the CST3 polymorphism or by specific presenilin 2 mutations can lead to the development of the disease. Thus, enhancing CysC expression or modulating CysC binding to Aβ have important disease-modifying effects, suggesting a novel therapeutic intervention for AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β; amyloid-β protein precursor; cystatin C
The metabolism of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and tau are central to the pathobiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD). We have examined the in vivo turnover of APP, secreted APP (sAPP), Aβ and tau in the wild-type and Tg2576 mouse brain using cycloheximide to block protein synthesis. In spite of overexpression of APP in the Tg2576 mouse, APP is rapidly degraded, similar to the rapid turnover of the endogenous protein in the wild-type mouse. sAPP is cleared from the brain more slowly, particularly in the Tg2576 model where the half-life of both the endogenous murine and transgene-derived human sAPP is nearly doubled compared to wild-type mice. The important Aβ degrading enzymes neprilysin and IDE were found to be highly stable in the brain, and soluble Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels in both wild-type and Tg2576 mice rapidly declined following the depletion of APP. The cytoskeletal-associated protein tau was found to be highly stable in both wild-type and Tg2576 mice. Our findings unexpectedly show that of these various AD-relevant protein metabolites, sAPP turnover in the brain is the most different when comparing a wild-type mouse and a β-amyloid depositing, APP overexpressing transgenic model. Given the neurotrophic roles attributed to sAPP, the enhanced stability of sAPP in the β-amyloid depositing Tg2576 mice may represent a neuroprotective response.
Calpains are calcium-dependent enzymes that determine the fate of proteins through regulated proteolytic activity. Calpains have been linked to the modulation of memory and are key to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD). When abnormally activated, calpains can also initiate degradation of proteins essential for neuronal survival. Here we show that calpain inhibition through E64, a cysteine protease inhibitor, and the highly specific calpain inhibitor BDA-410 restored normal synaptic function both in hippocampal cultures and in hippocampal slices from the APP/PS1 mouse, an animal model of AD. Calpain inhibition also improved spatial-working memory and associative fear memory in APP/PS1 mice. These beneficial effects of the calpain inhibitors were associated with restoration of normal phosphorylation levels of the transcription factor CREB and involved redistribution of the synaptic protein synapsin I. Thus, calpain inhibition may prove useful in the alleviation of memory loss in AD.
Amyloid-β peptide species ending at positions 40 and 42 (Aβ40, Αβ42) are generated by the proteolytic processing of the Alzheimer's amyloid precursor protein (APP). Aβ peptides accumulate in the brain early in the course of Alzheimer's disease (AD), especially Aβ42. The cytoplasmic domain of APP regulates intracellular trafficking and metabolism of APP and its carboxyl-terminal fragments (CTFα, CTFβ). The role of protein phosphorylation in general, and that of the phosphorylation state of APP at threonine-668 (Thr668) in particular, has been investigated in detail by several laboratories (including our own). Some investigators have recently proposed that the phosphorylation state of Thr668 plays a pivotal role in governing brain Aβ levels, prompting the current study.
In order to evaluate whether the phosphorylation state of Thr668 controlled brain Aβ levels, we studied the levels and subcellular distributions of holoAPP, sAPPα, sAPPβ, CTFα, CTFβ, Aβ40 and Aβ42 in brains from “knock-in” mice in which a non-phosphorylatable alanyl residue had been substituted at position 668, replacing the threonyl residue present in the wild-type protein.
The levels and subcellular distributions of holoAPP, sAPPα, sAPPβ, CTFα, CTFβ, Aβ40 and Aβ42 in the brains of Thr668Ala mutant mice were identical to those observed in wild-type mice. These results indicate that, despite speculation to the contrary, the phosphorylation state of APP at Thr668 does not play an obvious role in governing the physiological levels of brain Aβ40 or Αβ42 in vivo.
Macroautophagy, which is a lysosomal pathway for the turnover of organelles and long-lived proteins, is a key determinant of cell survival and longevity. In this study, we show that neuronal macroautophagy is induced early in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and before β-amyloid (Aβ) deposits extracellularly in the presenilin (PS) 1/Aβ precursor protein (APP) mouse model of β-amyloidosis. Subsequently, autophagosomes and late autophagic vacuoles (AVs) accumulate markedly in dystrophic dendrites, implying an impaired maturation of AVs to lysosomes. Immunolabeling identifies AVs in the brain as a major reservoir of intracellular Aβ. Purified AVs contain APP and β-cleaved APP and are highly enriched in PS1, nicastrin, and PS-dependent γ-secretase activity. Inducing or inhibiting macroautophagy in neuronal and nonneuronal cells by modulating mammalian target of rapamycin kinase elicits parallel changes in AV proliferation and Aβ production. Our results, therefore, link β-amyloidogenic and cell survival pathways through macroautophagy, which is activated and is abnormal in AD.
The over-expression of transforming growth factor β-1(TGF-β1) has been reported to cause hydrocephalus, glia activation, and vascular amyloidβ (Aβ) deposition in mouse brains. Since these phenomena partially mimic the cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) concomitant to Alzheimer's disease, the findings in TGF-β1 over-expressing mice prompted the hypothesis that CAA could be caused or enhanced by the abnormal production of TGF-β1. This idea was in accordance with the view that chronic inflammation contributes to Alzheimer's disease, and drew attention to the therapeutic potential of anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of Aβ-elicited CAA. We thus studied the effect of anti-inflammatory drug administration in TGF-β1-induced pathology.
Two-month-old TGF-β1 mice and littermate controls were orally administered pioglitazone, a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ agonist, or ibuprofen, a non steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, for two months. Glia activation was assessed by immunohistochemistry and western blot analysis; Aβ precursor protein (APP) by western blot analysis; Aβ deposition by immunohistochemistry, thioflavin-S staining and ELISA; and hydrocephalus by measurements of ventricle size on autoradiographies of brain sections. Results are expressed as means ± SD. Data comparisons were carried with the Student's T test when two groups were compared, or ANOVA analysis when more than three groups were analyzed.
Animals displayed glia activation, hydrocephalus and a robust thioflavin-S-positive vascular deposition. Unexpectedly, these deposits contained no Aβ or serum amyloid P component, a common constituent of amyloid deposits. The thioflavin-S-positive material thus remains to be identified. Pioglitazone decreased glia activation and basal levels of Aβ42- with no change in APP contents – while it increased hydrocephalus, and had no effect on the thioflavin-S deposits. Ibuprofen mimicked the reduction of glia activation caused by pioglitazone and the lack of effect on the thioflavin-S-labeled deposits.
i) TGF-β1 over-expressing mice may not be an appropriate model of Aβ-elicited CAA; and ii) pioglitazone has paradoxical effects on TGF-β1-induced pathology suggesting that anti-inflammatory therapy may reduce the damage resulting from active glia, but not from vascular alterations or hydrocephalus. Identification of the thioflavin-S-positive material will facilitate the full appraisal of the clinical implication of the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs, and provide a more thorough understanding of TGF-β1 actions in brain.