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Int J Dev Neurosci. 2009 Dec;27(8):825-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2009.08.007. Epub 2009 Aug 21.

Developmental expression and subcellular localization of glutaminyl cyclase in mouse brain.

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


Glutaminyl cyclase (QC) converts N-terminal glutaminyl residues into pyroglutamate (pE), thereby stabilizing these peptides/proteins. Recently, we demonstrated that QC also plays a pathogenic role in Alzheimer's disease by generating the disease-associated pE-Abeta from N-terminally truncated Abeta peptides in vivo. This newly identified function makes QC an interesting pharmacological target for Alzheimer's disease therapy. However, the expression of QC in brain and peripheral organs, its cell type-specific and subcellular localization as well as developmental profiles in brain are not known. The present study was performed to address these issues in mice. In brain, QC mRNA expression was highest in hypothalamus, followed by hippocampus and cortex. In liver, QC mRNA concentration was almost as high as in brain while lower QC mRNA levels were detected in lung and heart and very low expression levels were found in kidney and spleen. In the developmental course, stable QC mRNA levels were detected in hypothalamus from postnatal day 5 to 370. On the contrary, in cortex and hippocampus QC mRNA levels were highest after birth and declined during ontogenesis by 20-25%. These results were corroborated by immunocytochemical analysis in mouse brain demonstrating a robust QC expression in a subpopulation of lateral and paraventricular hypothalamic neurons and the labeling of a significant number of small neurons in the hippocampal molecular layer, in the hilus of the dentate gyrus and in all layers of the neocortex. Hippocampal QC-immunoreactive neurons include subsets of parvalbumin-, calbindin-, calretinin-, cholecystokinin- and somatostatin-positive GABAergic interneurons. The density of QC labeled hippocampal neurons declined during postnatal development matching the decrease in QC mRNA expression levels. Subcellular double immunofluorescent analysis localized QC within the endoplasmatic reticulum, Golgi apparatus and secretory granules, consistent with a function of QC in protein maturation and/or modification. Our results are in compliance with a role of QC in hypothalamic hormone maturation and suggest additional, yet unidentified QC functions in brain regions relevant for learning and memory which are affected in Alzheimer's disease.

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