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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 May 23;97(11):6138-43.

Presenilin 1 is linked with gamma-secretase activity in the detergent solubilized state.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, PA 19486, USA.


gamma-Secretase is a membrane-associated protease that cleaves within the transmembrane region of amyloid precursor protein to generate the C termini of the two Abeta peptide isoforms, Abeta40 and Abeta42. Here we report the detergent solubilization and partial characterization of gamma-secretase. The activity of solubilized gamma-secretase was measured with a recombinant substrate, C100Flag, consisting largely of the C-terminal fragment of amyloid precursor protein downstream of the beta-secretase cleavage site. Cleavage of C100Flag by gamma-secretase was detected by electrochemiluminescence using antibodies that specifically recognize the Abeta40 or Abeta42 termini. Incubation of C100Flag with HeLa cell membranes or detergent-solubilized HeLa cell membranes generates both the Abeta40 and Abeta42 termini. Recovery of catalytically competent, soluble gamma-secretase critically depends on the choice of detergent; CHAPSO (3-[(3-cholamidopropyl)dimethylammonio]-2-hydroxy-1-propanesulfonate) but not Triton X-100 is suitable. Solubilized gamma-secretase activity is inhibited by pepstatin and more potently by a novel aspartyl protease transition-state analog inhibitor that blocks formation of Abeta40 and Abeta42 in mammalian cells. Upon gel exclusion chromatography, solubilized gamma-secretase activity coelutes with presenilin 1 (PS1) at an apparent relative molecular weight of approximately 2.0 x 10(6). Anti-PS1 antibody immunoprecipitates gamma-secretase activity from the solubilized gamma-secretase preparation. These data suggest that gamma-secretase activity is catalyzed by a PS1-containing macromolecular complex.

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