The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics

Cathepsins B and L differentially regulate amyloid precursor protein processing.

PMID 19064719


Previous studies have shown that cathepsins control amyloid beta (Abeta) levels in chromaffin cells via a regulated secretory pathway. In the present study, this concept was extended to investigations in primary hippocampal neurons to test whether Abeta release was coregulated by cathepsins and electrical activity, proposed components of a regulated secretory pathway. Inhibition of cathepsin B (catB) activity with CA074Me or attenuation of catB expression through small interfering RNA produced decreases in Abeta release, similar to levels produced with suppression of beta-site APP-cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) expression. To test whether the catB-dependent release of Abeta was linked to ongoing electrical activity, neurons were treated with tetrodotoxin (TTX) and CA074Me. These comparisons demonstrated no additivity between decreases in Abeta release produced by TTX and CA074Me. In contrast, pharmacological inhibition of cathepsin L (catL) selectively elevated Abeta42 levels but not Abeta40 or total Abeta. Mechanistic studies measuring C-terminal fragments of amyloid precursor protein (APP) suggested that catL elevated alpha-secretase activity, thereby suppressing Abeta42 levels. The mechanism of catB-mediated regulation of Abeta release remains unclear but may involve elevation of beta-secretase. In summary, these studies provide evidence for a significant alternative pathway for APP processing that involves catB and activity-dependent release of Abeta in a regulated secretory pathway for primary neurons.