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Neurodegener Dis. 2007;4(2-3):101-11.

Amyloid precursor protein and presenilin involvement in cell signaling.

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Department of Oncology, Biology and Genetics, University of Genova, Genova, Italy.


To date the most relevant role for the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and for the presenilins (PSs) on Alzheimer's disease (AD) genesis is linked to the 'amyloid hypothesis', which considers an aberrant formation of amyloid-beta peptides the cause of neurodegeneration. In this view, APP is merely a substrate, cleaved by the gamma-secretase complex to form toxic amyloid peptides, PSs are key players in gamma-secretase complex, and corollary or secondary events are Tau-linked pathology and gliosis. A second theory, complementary to the amyloid hypothesis, proposes that APP and PSs may modulate a yet unclear cell signal, the disruption of which may induce cell-cycle abnormalities, neuronal death, eventually amyloid formation and finally dementia. This hypothesis is supported by the presence of a complex network of proteins, with a clear relevance for signal transduction mechanisms, which interact with APP or PSs. In this scenario, the C-terminal domain of APP has a pivotal role due to the presence of the 682YENPTY687 motif that represents the docking site for multiple interacting proteins involved in cell signaling. In this review we discuss the significance of novel findings related to cell signaling events modulated by APP and PSs for AD development.

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