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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47793. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047793. Epub 2012 Oct 17.

Regulated proteolytic processing of Reelin through interplay of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), ADAMTS-4, ADAMTS-5, and their modulators.

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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


The extracellular signaling protein Reelin, indispensable for proper neuronal migration and cortical layering during development, is also expressed in the adult brain where it modulates synaptic functions. It has been shown that proteolytic processing of Reelin decreases its signaling activity and promotes Reelin aggregation in vitro, and that proteolytic processing is affected in various neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, neither the pathophysiological significance of dysregulated Reelin cleavage, nor the involved proteases and their modulators are known. Here we identified the serine protease tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and two matrix metalloproteinases, ADAMTS-4 and ADAMTS-5, as Reelin cleaving enzymes. Moreover, we assessed the influence of several endogenous protease inhibitors, including tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), α-2-Macroglobulin, and multiple serpins, as well as matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) on Reelin cleavage, and described their complex interplay in the regulation of this process. Finally, we could demonstrate that in the murine hippocampus, the expression levels and localization of Reelin proteases largely overlap with that of Reelin. While this pattern remained stable during normal aging, changes in their protein levels coincided with accelerated Reelin aggregation in a mouse model of AD.

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