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J Biol Chem. 2005 Nov 4;280(44):36815-23. Epub 2005 Aug 22.

Lipids as modulators of proteolytic activity of BACE: involvement of cholesterol, glycosphingolipids, and anionic phospholipids in vitro.

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Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstrasse 108, Dresden, Germany.


The beta-secretase, BACE, is a membrane spanning aspartic protease, which cleaves the amyloid precursor protein (APP) in the first step of proteolytic processing leading to the formation of the neurotoxic beta-amyloid peptide (Abeta). Previous results have suggested that the regulation of beta-secretase and BACE access to APP is lipid dependent, and involves lipid rafts. Using the baculovirus expression system, we have expressed recombinant human full-length BACE in insect cells and purified milligram amounts to homogeneity. We have studied partitioning of fluorophor-conjugated BACE between the liquid ordered and disordered phases in giant (10-150 mum) unilamellar vesicles, and found approximately 20% to associate with the raft-like, liquid-ordered phase; the fraction associated with liquid-ordered phase increased upon cross-linking of raft lipids. To examine involvement of individual lipid species in modulating BACE activity, we have reconstituted the purified BACE in large ( approximately 100 nm) unilamellar vesicles, and determined its specific activity in vesicles of various lipid compositions. We have identified 3 groups of lipids that stimulate proteolytic activity of BACE: 1) neutral glycosphingolipids (cerebrosides), 2) anionic glycerophospholipids, and 3) sterols (cholesterol).

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