Human presenilin-1, but not familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) mutants, facilitate Caenorhabditis elegans Notch signalling independently of proteolytic processing
Genes Funct 1(2): 149-59
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The majority of cases with familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) are linked to mutations of the presenilin (PS) genes. These genes show considerable sequence similarity to the sel-12 gene of Caenorhabditis elegans, which has been postulated to function in the facilitated signalling by lin-12 and glp-1. In order to analyse the functional conservation of the presenilins, we introduced the human PS-1 cDNA, as well as clinical and deletion mutant proteins, into sel-12 mutant animals and tested their potential to rescue the egg-laying defect. Human PS-1 expressed from the sel-12 promoter fully rescued the sel-12 phenotype, whereas two missense mutations, C410Y and A246E, identified in pedigrees with FAD, exhibited a strongly decreased rescuing activity. The large hydrophilic loop and transmembrane domain 7 are required for the biological activity of PS-1. PS-1 protein was proteolytically cleaved in C. elegans as it is in human cells. A PS-1 splice variant (FAD mutation deltaexon9) that does not undergo proteolytic cleavage also substituted for sel-12. The conservation of function of human PS-1 and C. elegans sel-12 suggests that presenilin proteins are required, directly or indirectly, for the proper operation of the Notch signalling pathway. FAD-associated mutant proteins tested showed different rescuing activities, indicating that they might affect different functional or regulatory aspects of PS-1. Proteolytic processing is not a prerequisite for PS-1 function in C. elegans.