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Nat Commun. 2015 Nov 30;6:8897. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9897.

DNA repair factor BRCA1 depletion occurs in Alzheimer brains and impairs cognitive function in mice.

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Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.
Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.
Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.
Department of Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.
Department of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Maintaining DNA integrity is vital for all cells and organisms. Defective DNA repair may contribute to neurological disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). We found reduced levels of BRCA1, but not of other DNA repair factors, in the brains of AD patients and human amyloid precursor protein (hAPP) transgenic mice. Amyloid-β oligomers reduced BRCA1 levels in primary neuronal cultures. In wild-type mice, knocking down neuronal BRCA1 in the dentate gyrus caused increased DNA double-strand breaks, neuronal shrinkage, synaptic plasticity impairments, and learning and memory deficits, but not apoptosis. Low levels of hAPP/Amyloid-β overexpression exacerbated these effects. Physiological neuronal activation increased BRCA1 levels, whereas stimulating predominantly extrasynaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors promoted the proteasomal degradation of BRCA1. We conclude that BRCA1 is regulated by neuronal activity, protects the neuronal genome, and critically supports neuronal integrity and cognitive functions. Pathological accumulation of Aβ depletes neuronal BRCA1, which may contribute to cognitive deficits in AD.

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