Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Presenile because of presenilin: the presenilin genes and early onset Alzheimer's disease

Curr Opin Neurol 9(4): 254-9

Authors/Editors: Haass C
Publication Date: 1996
Type of Publication: Review
Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the massive and invariant accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brains of affected patients. In many cases Alzheimer's disease occurs in the absence of a prior history of the disease in other family members and is designated as sporadic, whereas in approximately 10% of patients, dominantly transmitted mutations within one of three genes are found. A few mutations have been identified within the gene encoding the beta-amyloid precursor protein; however, these mutations account for only about 1-3% of cases with familial Alzheimer's disease. In the majority of autosomal dominant cases (40-50%), mutations have been found in a gene localized to chromosome 14. The responsible gene, now called presenilin-1, has recently been identified and shown to encode a putative seven transmembrane domain protein. Surprisingly, a second highly homologous gene (named presenilin-2) was cloned shortly thereafter. It is localized on human chromosome 1 and is also involved in a small number of cases with familial Alzheimer's disease. Early data suggest that mutations found within the two genes cause early onset Alzheimer's disease by influencing the proteolytic processing of amyloid beta-peptide in a pathological manner.

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