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Nat Cell Biol. 2007 Jul;9(7):755-64. Epub 2007 Jun 18.

BACE1 regulates voltage-gated sodium channels and neuronal activity.

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Neurobiology of Disease Laboratory, Genetics and Aging Research Unit, MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


BACE1 activity is significantly increased in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients, potentially contributing to neurodegeneration. The voltage-gated sodium channel (Na(v)1) beta2-subunit (beta2), a type I membrane protein that covalently binds to Na(v)1 alpha-subunits, is a substrate for BACE1 and gamma-secretase. Here, we find that BACE1-gamma-secretase cleavages release the intracellular domain of beta2, which increases mRNA and protein levels of the pore-forming Na(v)1.1 alpha-subunit in neuroblastoma cells. Similarly, endogenous beta2 processing and Na(v)1.1 protein levels are elevated in brains of BACE1-transgenic mice and Alzheimer's disease patients with high BACE1 levels. However, Na(v)1.1 is retained inside the cells and cell surface expression of the Na(v)1 alpha-subunits and sodium current densities are markedly reduced in both neuroblastoma cells and adult hippocampal neurons from BACE1-transgenic mice. BACE1, by cleaving beta2, thus regulates Na(v)1 alpha-subunit levels and controls cell-surface sodium current densities. BACE1 inhibitors may normalize membrane excitability in Alzheimer's disease patients with elevated BACE1 activity.

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