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Cellular prion protein regulates β-secretase cleavage of the Alzheimer's amyloid precursor protein

Parkin, Edward T., Watt, Nicole T., Hussain, Ishrut, Eckman, Elizabeth A., Eckman, Christopher B., Manson, Jean C., Baybutt, Herbert N., Turner, Anthony J., Hooper, Nigel M.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2007 v.104 no.26 pp. 11062-11067
Alzheimer disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome, amyloid, glycosaminoglycans, humans, knockout mutants, lipids, metalloproteinases, mice, neurotoxicity, pathogenesis, peptides, prions, proteolysis, small interfering RNA, zinc
Proteolytic processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by β-secretase, β-site APP cleaving enzyme (BACE1), is the initial step in the production of the amyloid β (Aβ) peptide, which is involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. The normal cellular function of the prion protein (PrPC), the causative agent of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, remains enigmatic. Because both APP and PrPC are subject to proteolytic processing by the same zinc metalloproteases, we tested the involvement of PrPC in the proteolytic processing of APP. Cellular overexpression of PrPC inhibited the β-secretase cleavage of APP and reduced Aβ formation. Conversely, depletion of PrPC in mouse N2a cells by siRNA led to an increase in Aβ peptides secreted into the medium. In the brains of PrP knockout mice and in the brains from two strains of scrapie-infected mice, Aβ levels were significantly increased. Two mutants of PrP, PG14 and A116V, that are associated with familial human prion diseases failed to inhibit the β-secretase cleavage of APP. Using constructs of PrP, we show that this regulatory effect of PrPC on the β-secretase cleavage of APP required the localization of PrPC to cholesterol-rich lipid rafts and was mediated by the N-terminal polybasic region of PrPC via interaction with glycosaminoglycans. In conclusion, this is a mechanism by which the cellular production of the neurotoxic Aβ is regulated by PrPC and may have implications for both Alzheimer's and prion diseases.