- Mechanistic impact of the Swedish app-mutation and caspase-3 cleaved c-terminal presenilin fragment in the neurotoxic effects of beta-amyloid (2004)
- Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder world wide, causing presenile dementia and death of millions of people. During AD damage and massive loss of brain cells occur. Alzheimer’s disease is genetically heterogeneous and may therefore represent a common phenotype that results from various genetic and environmental influences and risk factors. In approximately 10% of patients, changes of the genetic information were detected (gene mutations). In these cases, Alzheimer’s disease is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait (familial Alzheimer’s disease, FAD). In rare cases of familial Alzheimer’s disease (about 1-3%), mutations have been detected in genes on chromosomes 14 and 1 (encoding for Presenilin 1 and 2, respectively), and on chromosome 21 encoding for the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which is responsible for the release of the cell-damaging protein amyloid-beta (ß-amyloid, Aß). Familial forms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are rare; however, their importance extends far beyond their frequency, because they allow to identify some of the critical pathogenetic pathways of the disease. All familial Alzheimer mutations share a common feature: they lead to an enhanced production of the Aß, which is the major constituent of senile plaques in brains of AD patients. New data indicates that Aß promotes neuronal degeneration. Therefore, one aim of these thesis was to elucidate the neurotoxic biochemical pathways induced by Aß, investigating the effect of the FAD Swedish APP double mutation (APPsw) on oxidative stress-induced cell death mechanisms. This mutation results in a three- to sixfold increased Aß production compared to wild-type APP (APPwt). As cell models, the neuronal PC12 (rat pheochromocytoma) and the HEK (human embryonic kidney 293) cell lines were used, which have been transfected with human wiltyp APP or human APP containing the Swedish double mutation. The used cell models offer two important advantages. First, compared to experiments using high concentrations of Aß at micromolar levels applied extracellularly to cells, PC12 APPsw cells secret low Aß levels similar to the situation in FAD brains. Thus, this cell model represents a very suitable approach to elucidate the AD-specific cell death pathways mimicking physiological conditions. Second, these two cell lines (PC12 and HEK APPwt and APPsw) with different production levels of Aß may additionally allow to study dose-dependent effects of Aß. The here obtained results provide evidence for the enhanced cell vulnerability caused by the Swedish APP mutation and elucidate the cell death mechanism probably initiated by intracellulary produced Aß. Here it seems likely that increased production of Aß at physiological levels primes APPsw PC12 cells to undergo cell death only after additional stress, while chronic high levels in HEK cells already lead to enhanced basal apoptotic levels. Crucial effects of the Swedish APP mutation include the impairments of cellular energy metabolism affecting mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP levels as well as the additional activation of caspase 2, caspase 8 and JNK in response to oxidative stress. Thereby ,the following model can be proposed: PC12 cells harboring the Swedish APP mutation have a reduced energy metabolism compared to APPwt or control cells. However, this effect does not leads to enhanced basal apoptotic levels of cultured cells. An exposure of PC12 cells to oxidative stress leads to mitochondrial dysfunction, e.g., decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and depletion in ATP. The consequence is the activation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway releasing cytochrome c and Smac resulting in the activation of caspase 9. This effect is amplified by the overexpression of APP, since both APPsw and APPwt PC12 cells show enhanced cytochrome c and Smac release as well as enhanced caspase 9 activity as vector transfected control. In APPsw PC12 cells a parallel pathway is additionally emphased. Due to reduced ATP levels or enhanced Aß production JNK is activated. Furthermore, the extrinsic apoptotic pathway is enhanced, since caspase 8 and caspase 2 activation was clearly enhanced by the Swedish APP mutation. Both pathways may then converge by activating the effector enzyme, caspase 3, and the execution of cell death. In addition, caspase independent effects also needs to be considered. One possibility could be the implication of AIF since AIF expression was found to be induced by the Swedish APP mutation. In APPsw HEK cells high chronic Aß levels leads to enhanced apoptotic levels, reduce mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP levels even under basal conditions. Summarizing, a hypothetical sequence of events is proposed linking FAD, Aß production, JNK-activation, mitochondrial dysfunction with caspase pathway and neuronal loss for our cell model. The brain has a high metabolic rate and is exposured to gradually rising levels of oxidative stress during life. In Swedish FAD patients the levels of oxidative stress are increased in the temporal inferior cortex. This study using a cell model mimicking the in vivo situation in AD brains indicates that probably both, increased Aß production and the gradual rise of oxidative stress throughout life converge at a final common pathway of an increased vulnerability of neurons to apoptotic cell death from FAD patients. Presenilin (PS) 1 is an aspartyl protease, involved in the gamma-secretase mediated proteolysis of Amyloid-ß-protein (Aß), the major constituent of senile plaques in brains of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. Recent studies have suggested an additional role for presenilin proteins in apoptotic cell death observed in AD. Since PS 1 is proteolytic cleaved by caspase 3, it has been prosposed that the resulting C-terminal fragment of PS1 (PSCas) could play a role in signal transduction during apoptosis. Moreover, it was shown that mutant presenilins causing early-onset of familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD) may render cells vulnerable to apoptosis. The mechanism by which PS1 regulates apoptotic cell death is yet not understood. Therefore one aim of our present study was to clarify the involvement of PS1 in the proteolytic cascade of apoptosis and if the cleavage of PS1 by caspase 3 has an regulatory function. Here it is demonstrated that both, PS1 and PS1Cas lead to a reduced vulnerability of PC12 and Jurkat cells to different apoptotic stimuli. However a mutation at the caspase 3 recognition site (D345A/ PSmut), which inhibits cleavage of PS1 by caspase 3, show no differences in the effect of PS1 or PSCas towards apoptotic stimuli. This suggest that proteolysis of PS1 by caspase 3 is not a determinant, but only a secondary effect during apoptosis. Since several FAD mutation distributed through the whole PS1 gene lead to enhanced apoptosis, an abolishment of the antiapoptotic effect of PS1 might contribute to the massive neurodegeneration in early age of FAD patients. Here, the regulate properties of PS1 in apoptosis may not be through an caspase 3 dependent cleavage and generation of PSCas, but rather through interaction of PS1 with other proteins involved in apoptosis.