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J Neurochem. 2005 Oct;95(1):20-32.

Down-regulation of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor M2 adversely affects the expression of Alzheimer's disease-relevant genes and proteins.

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Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Research, Department of Neurochemistry, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.


Beta-amyloid peptides play a major role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Therefore, preventing beta-amyloid formation by inhibition of the beta site amyloid precursor protein-cleaving enzyme (BACE) 1 is considered as a potential strategy to treat AD. Cholinergic mechanisms have been shown to control amyloid precursor protein processing and the number of muscarinic M2-acetylcholine receptors is decreased in brain regions of patients with AD enriched with senile plaques. Therefore, the present study investigates the effect of this M2 muscarinic receptor down-regulation by siRNA on total gene expression and on regulation of BACE1 in particular in SK-SH-SY5Y cells. This model system was used for microarray analysis after carbachol stimulation of siRNA-treated cells compared with carbachol stimulated, non-siRNA-treated cells. The same model system was used to elucidate changes at the protein level by using two-dimensional gels followed by Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF) analysis. Taken together, the results indicate that the M2 acetylcholine receptor down-regulation in brains of patients with AD has important effects on the expression of several genes and proteins with major functions in the pathology of AD. This includes beta-secretase BACE1 as well as several modulators of the tau protein and other AD-relevant genes and proteins. Moreover, most of these genes and proteins are adversely affected against the background of AD.

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