Studies on the first described Alzheimer's disease amyloid beta mutant, the Dutch variant.
ABSTRACT Amyloid protein deposited in cerebral vessel walls and diffuse plaques of patients with hereditary cerebral hemorrhage with amyloidosis, Dutch type (HCHWA-D), is similar to the 40-42 residues amyloid beta (Abeta) in vessel walls and senile plaques in brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), Down's syndrome, and familial and sporadic cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). In 1990 we sequenced the amyloid beta-protein precursor (AbetaPP) gene from HCHWA-D patients revealing a single mutation that results in an amino acid substitution, Abeta E22Q. Subsequent identification of additional mutations in the AbetaPP gene in familial AD (FAD) pedigrees revealed that whereas substitutions in the middle of Abeta, residues Abeta21-23, are predominantly vasculotropic, those found amino- or carboxyl-terminal to the Abeta sequence within AbetaPP enhance amyloid parenchymal plaque deposition. Studies of transfected cells showed that substitutions amino- or carboxyl-terminal to Abeta lead to either greater Abeta production or to enhanced secretion of the more hydrophobic thus more fibrillogenic Abeta1-42. Substitutions in the center of Abeta facilitate rapid aggregation and fibrillization, slower clearance across the blood-brain barrier and perivascular drainage to the systemic circulation, possibly higher resistance to proteolysis, and enhanced toxicity towards endothelial and smooth muscle cells. However, most AD patients have no genetic defects in AbetaPP, indicating that other factors may alter Abeta production, conformation, and/or clearance initiating the disease process.
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ABSTRACT: Amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) is considered a key protein in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) because of its neurotoxicity and capacity to form characteristic insoluble deposits known as senile plaques. Aβ derives from amyloid-β protein precursor (AβPP), whose proteolytic processing generates several fragments including Aβ peptides of various lengths. The normal function of AβPP and its fragments remains poorly understood. While some fragments has been suggested to have a function in normal physiological cellular processes, Aβ has been widely considered as a "garbage" fragment that becomes toxic when it accumulates in the brain, resulting in impaired synaptic function and memory. Aβ is produced and released physiologically in the healthy brain during neuronal activity. In the last 10 years, we have been investigating whether Aβ plays a physiological role in the brain. We first demonstrated that picomolar concentrations of a human Aβ42 preparation enhanced synaptic plasticity and memory in mice. Next, we investigated the role of endogenous Aβ in healthy murine brains and found that treatment with a specific antirodent Aβ antibody and an siRNA against murine AβPP impaired synaptic plasticity and memory. The concurrent addition of human Aβ42 rescued these deficits, suggesting that in the healthy brain, physiological Aβ concentrations are necessary for normal synaptic plasticity and memory to occur. Furthermore, the effect of both exogenous and endogenous Aβ was seen to be mediated by modulation of neurotransmitter release and α7-nicotinic receptors. These findings need to be taken into consideration when designing novel therapeutic strategies for AD.Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 06/2012; 33. DOI:10.3233/JAD-2012-129033 · 3.61 Impact Factor