PloS one

eIF4A inhibition allows translational regulation of mRNAs encoding proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease.

PMID 20927385


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the main cause of dementia in our increasingly aging population. The debilitating cognitive and behavioral symptoms characteristic of AD make it an extremely distressing illness for patients and carers. Although drugs have been developed to treat AD symptoms and to slow disease progression, there is currently no cure. The incidence of AD is predicted to increase to over one hundred million by 2050, placing a heavy burden on communities and economies, and making the development of effective therapies an urgent priority. Two proteins are thought to have major contributory roles in AD: the microtubule associated protein tau, also known as MAPT; and the amyloid-beta peptide (A-beta), a cleavage product of amyloid precursor protein (APP). Oxidative stress is also implicated in AD pathology from an early stage. By targeting eIF4A, an RNA helicase involved in translation initiation, the synthesis of APP and tau, but not neuroprotective proteins, can be simultaneously and specifically reduced, representing a novel avenue for AD intervention. We also show that protection from oxidative stress is increased upon eIF4A inhibition. We demonstrate that the reduction of these proteins is not due to changes in mRNA levels or increased protein degradation, but is a consequence of translational repression conferred by inhibition of the helicase activity of eIF4A. Inhibition of eIF4A selectively and simultaneously modulates the synthesis of proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease: reducing A-beta and tau synthesis, while increasing proteins predicted to be neuroprotective.