Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Identification of a beta-secretase activity, which truncates amyloid beta-peptide after its presenilin-dependent generation

J Biol Chem 278(8): 5531-8

Authors/Editors: Fluhrer R
Multhaup G
Schlicksupp A
Okochi M
Takeda M
Lammich S
Willem M
Westmeyer G
Bode W
Walter J
Haass C
Publication Date: 2003
Type of Publication: Journal Article
The beta-amyloid precursor protein (beta APP) is proteolytically processed by two secretase activities to produce the pathogenic amyloid beta-peptide (A beta). N-terminal cleavage is mediated by beta-secretase (BACE) whereas C-terminal intramembraneous cleavage is exerted by the presenilin (PS) gamma-secretase complex. The A beta-generating gamma-secretase cleavage principally occurs after amino acid 40 or 42 and results in secretion of A beta-(1-40) or A beta-(1-42). Upon overexpression of BACE in cultured cells we unexpectedly noticed a reduction of secreted A beta-(1-40/42). However, mass spectrometry revealed a truncated A beta species, which terminates at amino acid 34 (A beta-(1-34)) suggesting an alternative gamma-secretase cut. Indeed, expression of a loss-of-function variant of PS1 inhibited not only the production of A beta-(1-40) and A beta-(1-42) but also that of A beta-(1-34). However, expression levels of BACE correlate with the amount of A beta-(1-34), and A beta-(1-34) is produced at the expense of A beta-(1-40) and A beta-(1-42). Since this suggested that BACE is involved in a C-terminal truncation of A beta, we incubated purified BACE with A beta-(1-40) in vitro. Under these conditions A beta-(1-34) was generated. Moreover, when conditioned media containing Abeta-(1-40) and A beta-(1-42) were incubated with cells expressing a loss-of-function PS1 variant together with BACE, A beta-(1-34) was efficiently produced in vivo. These data demonstrate that an apparently gamma-secretase-dependent A beta derivative is produced after the generation of the non-truncated A beta via an additional and unexpected activity of BACE.

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