Nicastrin functions as a gamma-secretase-substrate receptor.
ABSTRACT gamma-secretase catalyzes the intramembrane cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and Notch after their extracellular domains are shed by site-specific proteolysis. Nicastrin is an essential glycoprotein component of the gamma-secretase complex but has no known function. We now show that the ectodomain of nicastrin binds the new amino terminus that is generated upon proteolysis of the extracellular APP and Notch domains, thereby recruiting the APP and Notch substrates into the gamma-secretase complex. Chemical- or antibody-mediated blocking of the free amino terminus, addition of purified nicastrin ectodomain, or mutations in the ectodomain markedly reduce the binding and cleavage of substrate by gamma-secretase. These results indicate that nicastrin is a receptor for the amino-terminal stubs that are generated by ectodomain shedding of type I transmembrane proteins. Our data are consistent with a model where nicastrin presents these substrates to gamma-secretase and thereby facilitates their cleavage via intramembrane proteolysis.
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ABSTRACT: The cause of elevated level of amyloid β-peptide (Aβ42) in common late-onset sporadic [Alzheimer's disease (AD)] has not been established. Here, we show that the membrane lipid peroxidation product 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE) is associated with amyloid and neurodegenerative pathologies in AD and that it enhances γ-secretase activity and Aβ42 production in neurons. The γ-secretase substrate receptor, nicastrin, was found to be modified by HNE in cultured neurons and in brain specimens from patients with AD, in which HNE-nicastrin levels were found to be correlated with increased γ-secretase activity and Aβ plaque burden. Furthermore, HNE modification of nicastrin enhanced its binding to the γ-secretase substrate, amyloid precursor protein (APP) C99. In addition, the stimulation of γ-secretase activity and Aβ42 production by HNE were blocked by an HNE-scavenging histidine analog in a 3xTgAD mouse model of AD. These findings suggest a specific molecular mechanism by which oxidative stress increases Aβ42 production in AD and identify HNE as a novel therapeutic target upstream of the γ-secretase cleavage of APP.Aging cell 03/2012; 11(4):559-68. · 7.55 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The production and accumulation of the beta amyloid protein (Abeta) is a key event in the cascade of oxidative and inflammatory processes that characterizes Alzheimer's disease (AD). A multi-subunit enzyme complex, referred to as gamma (gamma) secretase, plays a pivotal role in the generation of Abeta from its parent molecule, the amyloid precursor protein (APP). Four core components (presenilin, nicastrin, aph-1, and pen-2) interact in a high-molecular-weight complex to perform intramembrane proteolysis on a number of membrane-bound proteins, including APP and Notch. Inhibitors and modulators of this enzyme have been assessed for their therapeutic benefit in AD. However, although these agents reduce Abeta levels, the majority have been shown to have severe side effects in pre-clinical animal studies, most likely due to the enzymes role in processing other proteins involved in normal cellular function. Current research is directed at understanding this enzyme and, in particular, at elucidating the roles that each of the core proteins plays in its function. In addition, a number of interacting proteins that are not components of gamma-secretase also appear to play important roles in modulating enzyme activity. This review will discuss the structural and functional complexity of the gamma-secretase enzyme and the effects of inhibiting its activity.Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences 01/2009; 46(5-6):282-301. · 3.78 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: γ-Secretase is an intramembrane protease responsible for the generation of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides. Aberrant accumulation of Aβ leads to the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Nicastrin is the putative substrate-recruiting component of the γ-secretase complex. No atomic-resolution structure had been identified on γ-secretase or any of its four components, hindering mechanistic understanding of γ-secretase function. Here we report the crystal structure of nicastrin from Dictyostelium purpureum at 1.95-Å resolution. The extracellular domain of nicastrin contains a large lobe and a small lobe. The large lobe of nicastrin, thought to be responsible for substrate recognition, associates with the small lobe through a hydrophobic pivot at the center. The putative substrate-binding pocket is shielded from the small lobe by a lid, which blocks substrate entry. These structural features suggest a working model of nicastrin function. Analysis of nicastrin structure provides insights into the assembly and architecture of the γ-secretase complex.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 09/2014;