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: Amyloid β-protein (Aβ) plays a central role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, the most common age-associated neurodegenerative disorder. Aβ is generated through intramembrane proteolysis of the β-carboxyl terminal fragment (βCTF) of β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) by γ-secretase. The initial cleavage by γ-secretase occurs in the membrane/cytoplasm boundary of the βCTF, liberating the APP intracellular domain (AICD). The remaining βCTFs, which are truncated at the C-terminus (longer Aβs), are then cropped sequentially in a stepwise manner, predominantly at three residue intervals, to generate Aβ. There are two major Aβ product lines which generate Aβ40 and Aβ42 with concomitant release of three and two tripeptides, respectively. Additionally, many alternative cleavages occur, releasing peptides with three to six residues. These modulate the Aβ product lines and define the species and quantity of Aβ generated. Here, we review our current understanding of the intramembrane cleavage of the βCTF by γ-secretase, which may contribute to the future goal of developing an efficient therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer's disease.Frontiers in Physiology 11/2014; 5:463.
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ABSTRACT: The presenilin genes were first identified as the site of missense mutations causing early onset autosomal dominant familial Alzheimer's disease. Subsequent work has shown that the presenilin proteins are the catalytic subunits of a hetero-tetrameric complex containing APH1, nicastrin and PEN-2. This complex (variously termed presenilin complex or gamma-secretase complex) performs an unusual type of proteolysis in which the transmembrane domains of Type I proteins are cleaved within the hydrophobic compartment of the membrane. This review describes some of the molecular and structural biology of this unusual enzyme complex. The presenilin complex is a bilobed structure. The head domain contains the ectodomain of nicastrin. The base domain contains a central cavity with a lateral cleft that likely provides the route for access of the substrate to the catalytic cavity within the centre of the base domain. There are reciprocal allosteric interactions between various sites in the complex that affect its function. For instance, binding of Compound E, a peptidomimetic inhibitor to the PS1 N-terminus, induces significant conformational changes that reduces substrate binding at the initial substrate docking site, and thus inhibits substrate cleavage. However, there is a reciprocal allosteric interaction between these sites such that prior binding of the substrate to the initial docking site paradoxically increases the binding of the Compound E peptidomimetic inhibitor. Such reciprocal interactions are likely to form the basis of a gating mechanism that underlies access of substrate to the catalytic site. An increasingly detailed understanding of the structural biology of the presenilin complex is an essential step towards rational design of substrate- and/or cleavage site-specific modulators of presenilin complex function.Molecular Neurodegeneration 12/2014; 9(1):59. · 5.29 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: One of the most critical pathological features of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) peptides that form extracellular senile plaques in the brain. Aβ is derived from β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) through sequential cleavage by β- and γ-secretases. γ-secretase is a high molecular weight complex minimally composed of four components: presenilins (PS), nicastrin, anterior pharynx defective 1 (APH-1), and presenilin enhancer 2 (PEN-2). In addition to APP, γ-secretase also cleaves many other type I transmembrane (TM) protein substrates. As a crucial enzyme for Aβ production, γ-secretase is an appealing therapeutic target for AD. Here, we summarize current knowledge on the structure and function of γ-secretase, as well as recent progress in developing γ-secretase targeting drugs for AD treatment.Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 01/2014; 8:427. · 4.18 Impact Factor