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J Neurosci. 2019 Jul 3;39(27):5255-5268. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0578-19.2019. Epub 2019 May 1.

Lysosomal Dysfunction in Down Syndrome Is APP-Dependent and Mediated by APP-βCTF (C99).

Author information

Center for Dementia Research, Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, New York, 10962.
Departments of Psychiatry.
Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy, and.
Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, 10461.
Center for Dementia Research, Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, New York, 10962,
Cell Biology.
NYU Neuroscience Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York 10016.


Lysosomal failure underlies pathogenesis of numerous congenital neurodegenerative disorders and is an early and progressive feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis. Here, we report that lysosomal dysfunction in Down ayndrome (trisomy 21), a neurodevelopmental disorder and form of early onset AD, requires the extra gene copy of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and is specifically mediated by the β cleaved carboxy terminal fragment of APP (APP-βCTF, C99). In primary fibroblasts from individuals with DS, lysosomal degradation of autophagic and endocytic substrates is selectively impaired, causing them to accumulate in enlarged autolysosomes/lysosomes. Direct measurements of lysosomal pH uncovered a significant elevation (0.6 units) as a basis for slowed LC3 turnover and the inactivation of cathepsin D and other lysosomal hydrolases known to be unstable or less active when lysosomal pH is persistently elevated. Normalizing lysosome pH by delivering acidic nanoparticles to lysosomes ameliorated lysosomal deficits, whereas RNA sequencing analysis excluded a transcriptional contribution to hydrolase declines. Cortical neurons cultured from the Ts2 mouse model of DS exhibited lysosomal deficits similar to those in DS cells. Lowering APP expression with siRNA or BACE1 inhibition reversed cathepsin deficits in both fibroblasts and neurons. Deleting one Bace1 allele from adult Ts2 mice had similar rescue effects in vivo The modest elevation of endogenous APP-βCTF needed to disrupt lysosomal function in DS is relevant to sporadic AD where APP-βCTF, but not APP, is also elevated. Our results extend evidence that impaired lysosomal acidification drives progressive lysosomal failure in multiple forms of AD.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Down syndrome (trisomy 21) (DS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder invariably leading to early-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). We showed in cells from DS individuals and neurons of DS models that one extra copy of a normal amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene impairs lysosomal acidification, thereby depressing lysosomal hydrolytic activities and turnover of autophagic and endocytic substrates, processes vital to neuronal survival. These deficits, which were reversible by correcting lysosomal pH, are mediated by elevated levels of endogenous β-cleaved carboxy-terminal fragment of APP (APP-βCTF). Notably, similar endosomal-lysosomal pathobiology emerges early in sporadic AD, where neuronal APP-βCTF is also elevated, underscoring its importance as a therapeutic target and underscoring the functional and pathogenic interrelationships between the endosomal-lysosomal pathway and genes causing AD.


AD; APP-βCTF; Down syndrome; cathepsin D; lysosomal pH; lysosome

[Available on 2020-01-03]

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