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J Neurochem. 2002 Aug;82(3):563-75.

Generation of C-terminally truncated amyloid-beta peptides is dependent on gamma-secretase activity.

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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories, Harlow, Essex, UK.


Aberrant production of amyloid-beta peptides by processing of the beta-amyloid precursor protein leads to the formation of characteristic extracellular protein deposits which are thought to be the cause of Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, inhibiting the key enzymes responsible for amyloid-beta peptide generation, beta- and gamma-secretase may offer an opportunity to intervene with the progression of the disease. In human brain and cell culture systems a heterogeneous population of amyloid-beta peptides with various truncations is detected and at present, it is unclear how they are produced. We have used a combination of surface enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (SELDI-TOF MS) and a specific inhibitor of gamma-secretase to investigate whether the production of all amyloid-beta peptide species requires the action of gamma-secretase. Using this approach, we demonstrate that the production of all truncated amyloid-beta peptides except those released by the action of the nonamyloidogenic alpha-secretase enzyme or potentially beta-site betaAPP cleaving enzyme 2 depends on gamma-secretase activity. This indicates that none of these peptides are generated by a separate enzyme entity and a specific inhibitor of the gamma-secretase enzyme should havethe potential to block the generation of all amyloidogenicpeptides. Furthermore in the presence of gamma-secretase inhibitors, the observation of increased cleavage of the membrane-bound betaAPP C-terminal fragment C99 by alpha-secretase suggests that during its trafficking C99 encounters compartments in which alpha-secretase activity resides.

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