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EMBO J. 2010 Sep 1;29(17):3020-32. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2010.167. Epub 2010 Jul 30.

ADAM10 is the physiologically relevant, constitutive alpha-secretase of the amyloid precursor protein in primary neurons.

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  • 1Adolf-Butenandt-Institute, Biochemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.


The amyloid precursor protein (APP) undergoes constitutive shedding by a protease activity called alpha-secretase. This is considered an important mechanism preventing the generation of the Alzheimer's disease amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta). alpha-Secretase appears to be a metalloprotease of the ADAM family, but its identity remains to be established. Using a novel alpha-secretase-cleavage site-specific antibody, we found that RNAi-mediated knockdown of ADAM10, but surprisingly not of ADAM9 or 17, completely suppressed APP alpha-secretase cleavage in different cell lines and in primary murine neurons. Other proteases were not able to compensate for this loss of alpha-cleavage. This finding was further confirmed by mass-spectrometric detection of APP-cleavage fragments. Surprisingly, in different cell lines, the reduction of alpha-secretase cleavage was not paralleled by a corresponding increase in the Abeta-generating beta-secretase cleavage, revealing that both proteases do not always compete for APP as a substrate. Instead, our data suggest a novel pathway for APP processing, in which ADAM10 can partially compete with gamma-secretase for the cleavage of a C-terminal APP fragment generated by beta-secretase. We conclude that ADAM10 is the physiologically relevant, constitutive alpha-secretase of APP.

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