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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jul 6;276(27):24540-8. Epub 2001 May 3.

Degradation of the Alzheimer's amyloid beta peptide by endothelin-converting enzyme.

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Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, 4500 San Pablo Road, Jacksonville, FL 32224, USA.


Deposition of beta-amyloid (Abeta) peptides in the brain is an early and invariant feature of all forms of Alzheimer's disease. As with any secreted protein, the extracellular concentration of Abeta is determined not only by its production but also by its catabolism. A major focus of Alzheimer's research has been the elucidation of the mechanisms responsible for the generation of Abeta. Much less, however, is known about the mechanisms responsible for Abeta removal in the brain. In this report, we describe the identification of endothelin-converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1) as a novel Abeta-degrading enzyme. We show that treatment of endogenous ECE-expressing cell lines with the metalloprotease inhibitor phosphoramidon causes a 2-3-fold elevation in extracellular Abeta concentration that appears to be due to inhibition of intracellular Abeta degradation. Furthermore, we show that overexpression of ECE-1 in Chinese hamster ovary cells, which lack endogenous ECE activity, reduces extracellular Abeta concentration by up to 90% and that this effect is completely reversed by treatment of the cells with phosphoramidon. Finally, we show that recombinant soluble ECE-1 is capable of hydrolyzing synthetic Abeta40 and Abeta42 in vitro at multiple sites.

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