Neuroprotective effects of regulators of the glycogen synthase kinase-3beta signaling pathway in a transgenic model of Alzheimer's disease are associated with reduced amyloid precursor protein phosphorylation.
ABSTRACT: The glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK3beta) pathway plays an important role in mediating neuronal fate and synaptic plasticity. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), abnormal activation of this pathway might play an important role in neurodegeneration, and compounds such as lithium that modulate GSK3beta activity have been shown to reduce amyloid production and tau phosphorylation in amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic (tg) mice. However, it is unclear whether regulation of GSK3beta is neuroprotective in APP tg mice. In this context, the main objective of the present study was to determine whether pharmacological or genetic manipulations that block the GSK3beta pathway might ameliorate the neurodegenerative alterations in APP tg mice and to better understand the mechanisms involved. For this purpose, two sets of experiments were performed. First, tg mice expressing mutant human APP under the Thy1 promoter (hAPP tg) were treated with either lithium chloride or saline alone. Second, hAPP tg mice were crossed with GSK3beta tg mice, in which overexpression of this signaling molecule results in a dominant-negative (DN) effect with inhibition of activity. hAPP tg mice that were treated with lithium or that were crossed with DN-GSK3beta tg mice displayed improved performance in the water maze, preservation of the dendritic structure in the frontal cortex and hippocampus, and decreased tau phosphorylation. Moreover, reduced activation of GSK3beta was associated with decreased levels of APP phosphorylation that resulted in decreased amyloid-beta production. In conclusion, the present study showed that modulation of the GSK3beta signaling pathway might also have neuroprotective effects in tg mice by regulating APP maturation and processing and further supports the notion that GSK3beta might be a suitable target for the treatment of AD.
Project description:The low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) is an abundant neuronal cell surface receptor that regulates amyloid beta-protein (Abeta) trafficking into the cell. Specifically, LRP binds secreted Abeta complexes and mediates its degradation. Previously, we have shown in vitro that the uptake of Abeta mediated by LRP is protective and that blocking this receptor significantly enhances neurotoxicity. To further characterize the effects of LRP and other lipoprotein receptors on Abeta deposition, an in vivo model of decreased LRP expression, receptor-associated protein (RAP)-deficient (RAP-/-) mice was crossed with human amyloid protein precursor transgenic (hAPP tg) mice, and plaque formation and neurodegeneration were analyzed. We found that, although the age of onset for plaque formation was the same in hAPP tg and hAPP tg/RAP-/- mice, the amount of amyloid deposited doubled in the hAPP tg/RAP-/- background. Moreover, these mice displayed increased neuronal damage and astrogliosis. Together, these results further support the contention that LRP and other lipoprotein receptors might be neuroprotective against Abeta toxicity and that this receptor might play an integral role in Abeta clearance.
Project description:Amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides play a key role in synaptic damage and memory deficits in the early pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Abnormal accumulation of Aβ at nerve terminals leads to synaptic pathology and ultimately to neurodegeneration. β-site amyloid precursor protein (APP) cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) is the major neuronal β-secretase for Aβ generation. However, the mechanisms regulating BACE1 distribution in axons and β cleavage of APP at synapses remain largely unknown. Here, we reveal that dynein-Snapin-mediated retrograde transport regulates BACE1 trafficking in axons and APP processing at presynaptic terminals. BACE1 is predominantly accumulated within late endosomes at the synapses of AD-related mutant human APP (hAPP) transgenic (Tg) mice and patient brains. Defective retrograde transport by genetic ablation of snapin in mice recapitulates late endocytic retention of BACE1 and increased APP processing at presynaptic sites. Conversely, overexpressing Snapin facilitates BACE1 trafficking and reduces synaptic BACE1 accumulation by enhancing the removal of BACE1 from distal AD axons and presynaptic terminals. Moreover, elevated Snapin expression via stereotactic hippocampal injections of adeno-associated virus particles in mutant hAPP Tg mouse brains decreases synaptic Aβ levels and ameliorates synapse loss, thus rescuing cognitive impairments associated with hAPP mice. Altogether, our study provides new mechanistic insights into the complex regulation of BACE1 trafficking and presynaptic localization through Snapin-mediated dynein-driven retrograde axonal transport, thereby suggesting a potential approach of modulating Aβ levels and attenuating synaptic deficits in AD.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT β-Site amyloid precursor protein (APP) cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) trafficking and synaptic localization significantly influence its β secretase activity and amyloid-β (Aβ) production. In AD brains, BACE1 is accumulated within dystrophic neurites, which is thought to augment Aβ-induced synaptotoxicity by Aβ overproduction. However, it remains largely unknown whether axonal transport regulates synaptic APP processing. Here, we demonstrate that Snapin-mediated retrograde transport plays a critical role in removing BACE1 from presynaptic terminals toward the soma, thus reducing synaptic Aβ production. Adeno-associated virus-mediated Snapin overexpression in the hippocampus of mutant hAPP mice significantly decreases synaptic Aβ levels, attenuates synapse loss, and thus rescues cognitive deficits. Our study uncovers a new pathway that controls synaptic APP processing by enhancing axonal BACE1 trafficking, thereby advancing our fundamental knowledge critical for ameliorating Aβ-linked synaptic pathology.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) continues to be the most common cause of cognitive and motor alterations in the aging population. Accumulation of amyloid beta (Abeta)-protein oligomers and the microtubule associated protein-TAU might be responsible for the neurological damage. We have previously shown that Cerebrolysin (CBL) reduces the synaptic and behavioral deficits in amyloid precursor protein (APP) transgenic (tg) mice by decreasing APP phosphorylation via modulation of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK3beta) and cyclin-dependent kinase-5 (CDK5) activity. These kinases also regulate TAU phosphorylation and are involved in promoting neurofibrillary pathology. In order to investigate the neuroprotective effects of CBL on TAU pathology, a new model for neurofibrillary alterations was developed using somatic gene transfer with adeno-associated virus (AAV2)-mutant (mut) TAU (P301L). The Thy1-APP tg mice (3 m/o) received bilateral injections of AAV2-mutTAU or AAV2-GFP, into the hippocampus. After 3 months, compared to non-tg controls, in APP tg mice intra-hippocampal injections with AAV2-mutTAU resulted in localized increased accumulation of phosphorylated TAU and neurodegeneration. Compared with vehicle controls, treatment with CBL in APP tg injected with AAV2-mutTAU resulted in a significant decrease in the levels of TAU phosphorylation at critical sites dependent on GSK3beta and CDK5 activity. This was accompanied by amelioration of the neurodegenerative alterations in the hippocampus. This study supports the concept that the neuroprotective effects of CBL may involve the reduction of TAU phosphorylation by regulating kinase activity.
Project description:Expression of the HIV-1 envelope protein gp120 in brains of transgenic (tg) mice induces extensive neurodegeneration (Toggas, S. M., E. Masliah, E. M. Rockenstein, G. F. Rall, C. R. Abraham, and L. Mucke. 1994. Nature [Lond.]. 367:188-193.). To further analyze the pathogenesis of gp120-induced neurotoxicity and to assess the neuroprotective potential of human amyloid precursor proteins (hAPPs) in vivo, different hAPP isoforms were expressed in neurons of gp120/hAPP-bigenic mice: hAPP751, which contains a Kunitz-type protease inhibitor domain, or hAPP695, which lacks this domain. Bigenic mice overexpressing hAPP751 at moderate levels showed significantly less neuronal loss, synapto-dendritic degeneration, and gliosis than singly tg mice expressing gp120 alone. In contrast, higher levels of hAPP695 expression in bigenic mice failed to prevent gp120-induced brain damage. These data indicate that hAPP can exert important neuroprotective functions in vivo and that the efficiency of this protection may depend on the hAPP isoform expressed and/or on the level of neuronal hAPP expression. Hence, molecules that mimic beneficial APP activities may be useful in the prevention/treatment of HIV-1-associated nervous system damage and, perhaps, also of other types of neural injury.
Project description:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common tauopathy, characterized by progressive accumulation of amyloid-? (A?) and hyperphosphorylated tau. While pathology associated with the 4-repeat (4R) tau isoform is more abundant in corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy, both 3R and 4R tau isoforms accumulate in AD. Many studies have investigated interactions between A? and 4R tau in double transgenic mice, but few, if any, have examined the effects of A? with 3R tau. To examine this relationship, we crossed our APP751 mutant line with our recently characterized 3R tau mutant model to create a bigenic line (hAPP-3RTau) to model AD neuropathology. Mice were analyzed at 3 and 6 months of age for pathological and behavioral endpoints. While both the 3RTau and the hAPP-3RTau mice showed neuronal loss, increased tau aggregation, A? plaques and exhibited more behavioral deficits compared to the non-tg control, the bigenic mice often displaying relatively worsening levels. We found that even in young animals we found that the presence of APP/A? increased the accumulation of 3R tau in the neocortex and hippocampus. This observation was accompanied by activation of GSK3 and neurodegeneration in the neocortex and CA1 region. These results suggest that in addition to 4R tau, APP/A? may also enhance accumulation of 3R tau, a process which may be directly relevant to pathogenic pathways in AD. Our results demonstrate that this bigenic model closely parallels the pathological course of AD and may serve as a valuable model for testing new pharmacological interventions.
Project description:The principal enzyme responsible for the beta-site cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP) in the brain is a membrane-bound aspartyl protease beta-site APP cleaving enzyme (BACE). We examined human APP (hAPP) and BACE mRNA expression by in situ hybridization in young and old hAPP transgenic mice from two lines: Tg2576, hAPP KM670-671NL (hAPP(Sw)) at 4 and 15 months; and PDAPP, hAPP V717F, at 4 and 11 months. In transgene-positive mice from both lines, hAPP expression was most prominent in cortical, cerebellar, and hippocampal neuronal populations. Cingulate, entorhinal, and hippocampal amyloid burden in transgene-positive 16-month Tg2576 mice was 4 to 8%, and in 12-month PDAPP mice, 2 to 4%; there was no cerebellar amyloid deposition. BACE expression in transgenic and nontransgenic mice was highest in the cerebellar granule cell layer and hippocampal neuronal layers, intermediate in cortex, lower in subcortical regions, and minimal or absent in white matter of the cerebellum. Emulsion-dipped sections confirmed a predominantly neuronal pattern of expression. The amount of hybridization signal did not differ between transgenic and nontransgenic mice, or young and old mice, within each line. Thus, hAPP and endogenous BACE expression in similar anatomical localizations allow for processing of hAPP and Abeta formation in hAPP transgenic mice, but these are modified by additional age-related and anatomical factors.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most frequent and costly neurodegenerative disorder. Although diverse lines of evidence suggest that the amyloid precursor protein (APP) is involved in its causation, the precise mechanisms remain unknown and no treatments are available to prevent or halt the disease. A favorite hypothesis has been that APP contributes to AD pathogenesis through the cerebral accumulation of the amyloid-? peptide (A?), which is derived from APP through sequential proteolytic cleavage by BACE1 and ?-secretase. However, inhibitors of these enzymes have failed in clinical trials despite clear evidence for target engagement. METHODS:To further elucidate the roles of APP and its metabolites in AD pathogenesis, we analyzed transgenic mice overexpressing wildtype human APP (hAPP) or hAPP carrying mutations that cause autosomal dominant familial AD (FAD), as well as App knock-in mice that do not overexpress hAPP but have two mouse App alleles with FAD mutations and a humanized A? sequence. RESULTS:Although these lines of mice had marked differences in cortical and hippocampal levels of APP, APP C-terminal fragments, soluble A?, A? oligomers and age-dependent amyloid deposition, they all developed cognitive deficits as well as non-convulsive epileptiform activity, a type of network dysfunction that also occurs in a substantive proportion of humans with AD. Pharmacological inhibition of BACE1 effectively reduced levels of amyloidogenic APP C-terminal fragments (C99), soluble A?, A? oligomers, and amyloid deposits in transgenic mice expressing FAD-mutant hAPP, but did not improve their network dysfunction and behavioral abnormalities, even when initiated at early stages before amyloid deposits were detectable. CONCLUSIONS:hAPP transgenic and App knock-in mice develop similar pathophysiological alterations. APP and its metabolites contribute to AD-related functional alterations through complex combinatorial mechanisms that may be difficult to block with BACE inhibitors and, possibly, also with other anti-A? treatments.
Project description:Previous studies suggested that cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) at aspartate residue 664 by caspases may play a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Mutation of this site (D664A) prevents caspase cleavage and the generation of the C-terminal APP fragments C31 and Jcasp, which have been proposed to mediate amyloid-beta (Abeta) neurotoxicity. Here we compared human APP transgenic mice with (B254) and without (J20) the D664A mutation in a battery of tests. Before Abeta deposition, hAPP-B254 and hAPP-J20 mice had comparable hippocampal levels of Abeta(1-42). At 2-3 or 5-7 months of age, hAPP-B254 and hAPP-J20 mice had similar abnormalities relative to nontransgenic mice in spatial and nonspatial learning and memory, elevated plus maze performance, electrophysiological measures of synaptic transmission and plasticity, and levels of synaptic activity-related proteins. Thus, caspase cleavage of APP at position D664 and generation of C31 do not play a critical role in the development of these abnormalities.
Project description:Adult hippocampal neurogenesis was impaired in several Alzheimer's disease models overexpressing mutant human amyloid precursor protein (hAPP). However, the effects of wild-type hAPP on adult neurogenesis and whether the impaired adult hippocampal neurogenesis was caused by amyloid ? (A?) or APP remained unclear. Here, we found that neurogenesis was impaired in the dentate gyrus (DG) of adult mice overexpressing wild-type hAPP (hAPP-I5) compared with controls. However, the adult hippocampal neurogenesis was more severely impaired in hAPP-I5 than that in hAPP-J20 mice, which express similar levels of hAPP mRNA but much higher levels of A?. Furthermore, reducing A? levels did not affect the number of doublecortin-positive cells in the DG of hAPP-J20 mice. Our results suggested that hAPP was more likely an important factor inhibiting adult neurogenesis, and A? was not the major factor affecting neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus of hAPP mice.
Project description:Proteases and their inhibitors play key roles in physiological and pathological processes. Cerebral amyloid plaques are a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). They contain amyloid-ss (Ass) peptides in tight association with the serine protease inhibitor alpha(1)-antichymotrypsin.(1,2) However, it is unknown whether the increased expression of alpha(1)-antichymotrypsin found in AD brains counteracts or contributes to the disease. We used regulatory sequences of the glial fibrillary acidic protein gene(3) to express human alpha(1)-antichymotrypsin (hACT) in astrocytes of transgenic mice. These mice were crossed with transgenic mice that produce human amyloid protein precursors (hAPP) and Ass in neurons.(4,5) No amyloid plaques were found in transgenic mice expressing hACT alone, whereas hAPP transgenic mice and hAPP/hACT doubly transgenic mice developed typical AD-like amyloid plaques in the hippocampus and neocortex around 6 to 8 months of age. Co-expression of hAPP and hACT significantly increased the plaque burden at 7 to 8, 14, and 20 months. Both hAPP and hAPP/hACT mice showed significant decreases in synaptophysin-immunoreactive presynaptic terminals in the dentate gyrus, compared with nontransgenic littermates. Our results demonstrate that hACT acts as an amyloidogenic co-factor in vivo and suggest that the role of hACT in AD is pathogenic.