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Neurobiol Dis. 2008 Sep;31(3):442-50. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2008.06.001. Epub 2008 Jun 17.

Aggregation and catabolism of disease-associated intra-Abeta mutations: reduced proteolysis of AbetaA21G by neprilysin.

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  • 1Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Research, The Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Republic of Ireland.


Five point mutations within the amyloid beta-protein (Abeta) sequence of the APP gene are associated with hereditary diseases which are similar or identical to Alzheimer's disease and encode: the A21G (Flemish), E22G (Arctic), E22K (Italian), E22Q (Dutch) and the D23N (Iowa) amino acid substitutions. Although a substantial body of data exists on the effects of these mutations on Abeta production, whether or not intra-Abeta mutations alter degradation and how this relates to their aggregation state remain unclear. Here we report that the E22G, E22Q and the D23N substitutions significantly increase fibril nucleation and extension, whereas the E22K substitution exhibits only an increased rate of extension and the A21G substitution actually causes a decrease in the extension rate. These substantial differences in aggregation together with our observation that aggregated wild type Abeta(1-40) was much less well degraded than monomeric wild type Abeta(1-40), prompted us to assess whether or not disease-associated intra-Abeta mutations alter proteolysis independent of their effects on aggregation. Neprilysin (NEP), insulin degrading enzyme (IDE) and plasmin play a major role in Abeta catabolism, therefore we compared the ability of these enzymes to degrade wild type and mutant monomeric Abeta peptides. Experiments investigating proteolysis revealed that all monomeric peptides are degraded similarly by IDE and plasmin, but that the Flemish peptide was degraded significantly more slowly by NEP than wild type Abeta or any of the other mutant peptides. This finding suggests that resistance to NEP-mediated proteolysis may underlie the pathogenicity associated with the A21G mutation.

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