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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jan 16;279(3):1942-9. Epub 2003 Nov 3.

BACE1 suppression by RNA interference in primary cortical neurons.

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Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Armenise Building, 200 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Extracellular deposition of amyloid-beta (Abeta) aggregates in the brain represents one of the histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Abeta peptides are generated from proteolysis of the amyloid precursor proteins (APPs) by beta- and gamma-secretases. Beta-secretase (BACE1) is a type I integral membrane glycoprotein that can cleave APP first to generate C-terminal 99- or 89-amino acid membrane-bound fragments containing the N terminus of Abeta peptides (betaCTF). As BACE1 cleavage is an essential step for Abeta generation, it is proposed as a key therapeutic target for treating AD. In this study, we show that small interfering RNA (siRNA) specifically targeted to BACE1 can suppress BACE1 (but not BACE2) protein expression in different cell systems. Furthermore, BACE1 siRNA reduced APP betaCTF and Abeta production in primary cortical neurons derived from both wild-type and transgenic mice harboring the Swedish APP mutant. The subcellular distribution of APP and presenilin-1 did not appear to differ in BACE1 suppressed cells. Importantly, pretreating neurons with BACE1 siRNA reduced the neurotoxicity induced by H2O2 oxidative stress. Our results indicate that BACE1 siRNA specifically impacts on beta-cleavage of APP and may be a potential therapeutic approach for treating AD.

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