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PLoS One. 2018 Jul 2;13(7):e0200077. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200077. eCollection 2018.

Dissecting conformational changes in APP's transmembrane domain linked to ε-efficiency in familial Alzheimer's disease.

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Technical University of Munich, Chair of Physics of Synthetic Biological Systems, Freising, Germany.


The mechanism by which familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) mutations within the transmembrane domain (TMD) of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) affect ε-endoproteolysis is only poorly understood. Thereby, mutations in the cleavage domain reduce ε-efficiency of γ-secretase cleavage and some even shift entry into production lines. Since cleavage occurs within the TMD, a relationship between processing and TMD structure and dynamics seems obvious. Using molecular dynamic simulations, we dissect the dynamic features of wild-type and seven FAD-mutants into local and global components. Mutations consistently enhance hydrogen-bond fluctuations upstream of the ε-cleavage sites but maintain strong helicity there. Dynamic perturbation-response scanning reveals that FAD-mutants target backbone motions utilized in the bound state. Those motions, obscured by large-scale motions in the pre-bound state, provide (i) a dynamic mechanism underlying the proposed coupling between binding and ε-cleavage, (ii) key sites consistent with experimentally determined docking sites, and (iii) the distinction between mutants and wild-type.

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