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J Neurosci. 2000 Dec 1;20(23):8717-26.

Presenilin-1 P264L knock-in mutation: differential effects on abeta production, amyloid deposition, and neuronal vulnerability.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


The pathogenic mechanism linking presenilin-1 (PS-1) gene mutations to familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) is uncertain, but has been proposed to include increased neuronal sensitivity to degeneration and enhanced amyloidogenic processing of the beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP). We investigated this issue by using gene targeting with the Cre-lox system to introduce an FAD-linked P264L mutation into the endogenous mouse PS-1 gene, an approach that maintains normal regulatory controls over expression. Primary cortical neurons derived from PS-1 homozygous mutant knock-in mice exhibit basal neurodegeneration similar to their PS-1 wild-type counterparts. Staurosporine and Abeta1-42 induce apoptosis, and neither the dose dependence nor maximal extent of cell death is altered by the PS-1 knock-in mutation. Similarly, glutamate-induced neuronal necrosis is unaffected by the PS-1P264L mutation. The lack of effect of the PS-1P264L mutation is confirmed by measures of basal- and toxin-induced caspase and calpain activation, biochemical indices of apoptotic and necrotic signaling, respectively. To analyze the influence of the PS-1P264L knock-in mutation on APP processing and the development of AD-type neuropathology, we created mouse lines carrying mutations in both PS-1 and APP. In contrast to the lack of effect on neuronal vulnerability, cortical neurons cultured from PS-1P264L homozygous mutant mice secrete Abeta42 at an increased rate, whereas secretion of Abeta40 is reduced. Moreover, the PS-1 knock-in mutation selectively increases Abeta42 levels in the mouse brain and accelerates the onset of amyloid deposition and its attendant reactive gliosis, even as a single mutant allele. We conclude that expression of an FAD-linked mutant PS-1 at normal levels does not generally increase cortical neuronal sensitivity to degeneration. Instead, enhanced amyloidogenic processing of APP likely is critical to the pathogenesis of PS-1-linked FAD.

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