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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1999 Jun 8;69(2):273-80.

The Alzheimer-related gene presenilin 1 facilitates notch 1 in primary mammalian neurons.

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Alzheimer Research Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Neurology Service, Rm. 6405, 149 13th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


The normal functional neurobiology of the Alzheimer's disease (AD) related gene presenilin 1 (PS1) is unknown. One clue comes from a genetic screen of Caenorhabditis elegans, which reveals that the presenilin homologue sel-12 facilitates lin-12 function [D. Levitan, I. Greenwald, Facilitation of lin-12-mediated signalling by sel-12, a Caenorhabditis elegans S182 Alzheimer's disease gene, Nature 377 (1995) 351-355]. The mammalian homologue of lin-12, Notch1, is a transmembrane receptor that plays an important role in cell fate decisions during development, including neurogenesis, but does not have a known function in fully differentiated cells. To better understand the potential role of Notch1 in mammalian postmitotic neurons and to test the hypothesis that Notch and PS 1 interact, we studied the effect of Notch1 transfection on neurite outgrowth in primary cultures of hippocampal/cortical neurons. We demonstrate that Notch1 inhibits neurite extension, and thus has a function in postmitotic mature neurons in the mammalian CNS. Furthermore, we present evidence demonstrating that there is a functional interaction between PS1 and Notch1 in mammalian neurons, analogous to the sel-12/lin-12 interaction in vulval development in C. elegans [D. Levitan, T. Doyle, D. Brousseau, M. Lee, G. Thinakaran, H. Slunt, S. Sisodia, I. Greenwald, Assessment of normal and mutant human presenilin function in Caenorhabditis elegans, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 93 (1996) 14940-14944; D. Levitan, I. Greenwald, Effect of Sel-12 presenilin on Lin-12 localization and function in Caenorhabditis elegans, Development, 125 (1998) 3599-3606]. The inhibitory effect of Notch1 on neurite outgrowth is markedly attenuated in neurons from PS1 knockout mice, and enhanced in neurons from transgenic mice overexpressing wild type PS1, but not mutant PS1. These data suggest that PS1 facilitates Notch1 function in mammalian neurons, and support the hypothesis that a functional interaction exists between PS1 and Notch1 in postmitotic mammalian neurons.

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