Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Beta-Site Amyloid Precursor Protein Cleaving Enzyme 1 Inhibition Impairs Synaptic Plasticity via Seizure Protein 6

Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Dec 26. pii: S0006-3223(16)33157-2. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.12.023.

Authors/Editors: Kaichuan Zhu
Xianyuan Xiang
Severin Filser
Petar Marinkovic
Mario M. Dorostkar
Sophie Crux
Ulf Neumann
Derya R. Shimshek
Gerhard Rammes
Christian Haass
Stefan F. Lichtenthaler
Jenny M. Gunnersen
Jochen Herms
Publication Date: 2016
Type of Publication: Journal Article


Beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) is a promising drug target for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Prolonged BACE1 inhibition interferes with structural and functional synaptic plasticity in mice, most likely by altering the metabolism of BACE1 substrates. Seizure protein 6 (SEZ6) is predominantly cleaved by BACE1, and Sez6 knockout mice share some phenotypes with BACE1 inhibitor-treated mice. We investigated whether SEZ6 is involved in BACE1 inhibition-induced structural and functional synaptic alterations.


The function of NB-360, a novel blood-brain barrier penetrant and orally available BACE1 inhibitor, was verified by immunoblotting. In vivo microscopy was applied to monitor the impact of long-term pharmacological BACE1 inhibition on dendritic spines in the cerebral cortex of constitutive and conditional Sez6 knockout mice. Finally, synaptic functions were characterized using electrophysiological field recordings in hippocampal slices.


BACE1 enzymatic activity was strongly suppressed by NB-360. Prolonged NB-360 treatment caused a reversible spine density reduction in wild-type mice, but it did not affect Sez6-/- mice. Knocking out Sez6 in a small subset of mature neurons also prevented the structural postsynaptic changes induced by BACE1 inhibition. Hippocampal long-term potentiation was decreased in both chronic BACE1 inhibitor-treated wild-type mice and vehicle-treated Sez6-/- mice. However, chronic NB-360 treatment did not alter long-term potentiation in CA1 neurons of Sez6-/- mice.


Our results suggest that SEZ6 plays an important role in maintaining normal dendritic spine dynamics. Furthermore, SEZ6 is involved in BACE1 inhibition-induced structural and functional synaptic alterations.

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