PloS one

Altering APP proteolysis: increasing sAPPalpha production by targeting dimerization of the APP ectodomain.

PMID 22768208


One of the events associated with Alzheimer's disease is the dysregulation of α- versus β-cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP). The product of α-cleavage (sAPPα) has neuroprotective properties, while Aβ1-42 peptide, a product of β-cleavage, is neurotoxic. Dimerization of APP has been shown to influence the relative rate of α- and β- cleavage of APP. Thus finding compounds that interfere with dimerization of the APP ectodomain and increase the α-cleavage of APP could lead to the development of new therapies for Alzheimer's disease. Examining the intrinsic fluorescence of a fragment of the ectodomain of APP, which dimerizes through the E2 and Aβ-cognate domains, revealed significant changes in the fluorescence of the fragment upon binding of Aβ oligomers--which bind to dimers of the ectodomain--and Aβ fragments--which destabilize dimers of the ectodomain. This technique was extended to show that RERMS-containing peptides (APP(695) 328-332), disulfiram, and sulfiram also inhibit dimerization of the ectodomain fragment. This activity was confirmed with small angle x-ray scattering. Analysis of the activity of disulfiram and sulfiram in an AlphaLISA assay indicated that both compounds significantly enhance the production of sAPPα by 7W-CHO and B103 neuroblastoma cells. These observations demonstrate that there is a class of compounds that modulates the conformation of the APP ectodomain and influences the ratio of α- to β-cleavage of APP. These compounds provide a rationale for the development of a new class of therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease.