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Biochemistry. 2013 Jul 30;52(30):5051-64. doi: 10.1021/bi400735x. Epub 2013 Jul 18.

Competition between homodimerization and cholesterol binding to the C99 domain of the amyloid precursor protein.

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Department of Biochemistry and Center for Structural Biology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, United States.


The 99-residue transmembrane C-terminal domain (C99, also known as β-CTF) of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) is the product of the β-secretase cleavage of the full-length APP and is the substrate for γ-secretase cleavage. The latter cleavage releases the amyloid-β polypeptides that are closely associated with Alzheimer's disease. C99 is thought to form homodimers; however, the free energy in favor of dimerization has not previously been quantitated. It was also recently documented that cholesterol forms a 1:1 complex with monomeric C99 in bicelles. Here, the affinities for both homodimerization and cholesterol binding to C99 were measured in bilayered lipid vesicles using both electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) methods. Homodimerization and cholesterol binding were seen to be competitive processes that center on the transmembrane G₇₀₀XXXG₇₀₄XXXG₇₀₈ glycine-zipper motif and adjacent Gly709. On one hand, the observed Kd for cholesterol binding (Kd = 2.7 ± 0.3 mol %) is on the low end of the physiological cholesterol concentration range in mammalian cell membranes. On the other hand, the observed K(d) for homodimerization (K(d) = 0.47 ± 0.15 mol %) likely exceeds the physiological concentration range for C99. These results suggest that the 1:1 cholesterol/C99 complex will be more highly populated than C99 homodimers under most physiological conditions. These observations are of relevance for understanding the γ-secretase cleavage of C99.

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