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J Mol Neurosci. 2006;30(3):311-22.

Changes in cholesterol metabolism are associated with PS1 and PS2 gene regulation in SK-N-BE.

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Department of Cellular Biology and Neuroscience, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.


Several lines of evidence suggest that the cholesterol content of neuronal membranes influences amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing; however, its role in transcriptional regulation of the cofactors for gamma-secretase, the key enzyme for the production of the Abeta peptide, is poorly understood. This study investigates whether the changes in cellular cholesterol metabolism modulate the expression of genes involved in the gamma-secretase complex function. The abundance of mRNA transcripts for presenilin 1 and 2 (PS1 and PS2), APP, and nicastrin were evaluated in neuroblastoma cells exposed either to serum-depleted medium or to low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Cholesterol esterification was markedly inhibited by mevinolin and U18666A, but was not significantly affected by any other of the tested treatments. gamma-Secretase genes and cofactors were not co-regulated and were not influenced by statin inhibition of cholesterol synthesis. Nicastrin and the APP isoforms showed constitutive expression. In the absence of exogenous lipids, cell PS1 and PS2 expression was induced by LDL and by lysosomal sequestration of cholesterol. However, a different pattern of induction of presenilin gene expression was observed in the latter condition, suggesting that lysosomal cholesterol levels are strong inducers of PS2 transcription. Taken together, these results indicate that lipid metabolism has a complex influence on gamma-secretase transcriptional pathways and, in particular, exogenous cholesterol and compartmentalization in neuroblastoma cells play a relevant role in regulating the transcription of presenilins, while modulation of the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway seems to exert a minor influence on the expression of gamma-secretase genes and cofactors.

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