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Science. 2009 May 1;324(5927):639-42. doi: 10.1126/science.1171176. Epub 2009 Mar 19.

gamma-Secretase heterogeneity in the Aph1 subunit: relevance for Alzheimer's disease.

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Department for Molecular and Developmental Genetics, VIB, KULeuven, Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.


The gamma-secretase complex plays a role in Alzheimer's disease and cancer progression. The development of clinically useful inhibitors, however, is complicated by the role of the gamma-secretase complex in regulated intramembrane proteolysis of Notch and other essential proteins. Different gamma-secretase complexes containing different Presenilin or Aph1 protein subunits are present in various tissues. Here we show that these complexes have heterogeneous biochemical and physiological properties. Specific inactivation of the Aph1B gamma-secretase in a mouse Alzheimer's disease model led to improvements of Alzheimer's disease-relevant phenotypic features without any Notch-related side effects. The Aph1B complex contributes to total gamma-secretase activity in the human brain, and thus specific targeting of Aph1B-containing gamma-secretase complexes may help generate less toxic therapies for Alzheimer's disease.

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