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J Neurochem. 2004 Sep;90(6):1402-13.

PEN-2 enhances gamma-cleavage after presenilin heterodimer formation.

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Department of Dementia Research, National Institute for Longevity Sciences, Morioka, Obu, Aichi, Japan.


The presenilin (PS) complex, including PS, nicastrin, APH-1 and PEN-2, is essential for gamma-secretase activity, which is required for amyloid beta-protein (Abeta) generation. However, the precise individual roles of the three cofactors in the PS complex in Abeta generation remain to be clarified. Here, to distinguish the roles of PS cofactors in gamma-secretase activity from those in PS endoproteolysis, we investigated their roles in the gamma-secretase activity reconstituted by the coexpression of PS N- and C-terminal fragments (NTF and CTF) in PS-null cells. We demonstrate that the coexpression of PS1 NTF and CTF forms the heterodimer and restores Abeta generation in PS-null cells. The generation of Abeta was saturable at a certain expression level of PS1 NTF/CTF, while the overexpression of PEN-2 alone resulted in a further increase in Abeta generation. Although PEN-2 did not enhance PS1 NTF/CTF heterodimer formation, PEN-2 expression reduced the IC50 of a specific gamma-secretase inhibitor, a transition state analogue, for Abeta generation, suggesting that PEN-2 expression enhances the affinity or the accessibility of the substrate to the catalytic site. Thus, our results strongly suggest that PEN-2 is not only an essential component of the gamma-secretase complex but also an enhancer of gamma-cleavage after PS heterodimer formation.

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