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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2009 May;66(9):1534-55. doi: 10.1007/s00018-009-8435-9.

Presenilin-dependent regulated intramembrane proteolysis and gamma-secretase activity.

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  • 1Signal Transduction Laboratory, Biochemistry Department, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.


Inhibiting the production of amyloid-beta by antagonising gamma-secretase activity is currently being pursued as a therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, early pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that disruption of presenilin-dependent gamma-secretase alters many presenilin-dependent processes, leading to early lethality in several AD model organisms. Subsequently, transgenic animal studies have highlighted several gross developmental side effects arising from presenilin deficiency. Partial knockdown or tissue-specific knockout of presenilins has identified the skin, vascular and immune systems as very sensitive to loss of presenilin functions. A more appreciative understanding of presenilin biology is therefore demanded if gamma-secretase is to be pursued as a therapeutic target. Herein we review the current understanding of gamma-secretase complexes; their regulation, abundance of interacting partners and diversity of substrates. We also discuss regulation of the gamma-secretase complexes, with an emphasis on the functional role of presenilins in cell biology.

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