Publications by authors named "Anja Capell"

34 Publications

Loss of TMEM106B potentiates lysosomal and FTLD-like pathology in progranulin-deficient mice.

EMBO Rep 2020 10 14;21(10):e50241. Epub 2020 Sep 14.

Metabolic Biochemistry, Biomedical Center (BMC), Faculty of Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany.

Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in TMEM106B encoding the lysosomal type II transmembrane protein 106B increase the risk for frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) of GRN (progranulin gene) mutation carriers. Currently, it is unclear if progranulin (PGRN) and TMEM106B are synergistically linked and if a gain or a loss of function of TMEM106B is responsible for the increased disease risk of patients with GRN haploinsufficiency. We therefore compare behavioral abnormalities, gene expression patterns, lysosomal activity, and TDP-43 pathology in single and double knockout animals. Grn /Tmem106b mice show a strongly reduced life span and massive motor deficits. Gene expression analysis reveals an upregulation of molecular signature characteristic for disease-associated microglia and autophagy. Dysregulation of maturation of lysosomal proteins as well as an accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins and widespread p62 deposition suggest that proteostasis is impaired. Moreover, while single Grn knockouts only occasionally show TDP-43 pathology, the double knockout mice exhibit deposition of phosphorylated TDP-43. Thus, a loss of function of TMEM106B may enhance the risk for GRN-associated FTLD by reduced protein turnover in the lysosomal/autophagic system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15252/embr.202050241DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7534633PMC
October 2020

The FTLD Risk Factor TMEM106B Regulates the Transport of Lysosomes at the Axon Initial Segment of Motoneurons.

Cell Rep 2020 03;30(10):3506-3519.e6

Institute of Biochemistry, Kiel University, 24098 Kiel, Germany. Electronic address:

Genetic variations in TMEM106B, coding for a lysosomal membrane protein, affect frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) in GRN- (coding for progranulin) and C9orf72-expansion carriers and might play a role in aging. To determine the physiological function of TMEM106B, we generated TMEM106B-deficient mice. These mice develop proximal axonal swellings caused by drastically enlarged LAMP1-positive vacuoles, increased retrograde axonal transport of lysosomes, and accumulation of lipofuscin and autophagosomes. Giant vacuoles specifically accumulate at the distal end and within the axon initial segment, but not in peripheral nerves or at axon terminals, resulting in an impaired facial-nerve-dependent motor performance. These data implicate TMEM106B in mediating the axonal transport of LAMP1-positive organelles in motoneurons and axonal sorting at the initial segment. Our data provide mechanistic insight into how TMEM106B affects lysosomal proteolysis and degradative capacity in neurons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.02.060DOI Listing
March 2020

Opposite microglial activation stages upon loss of PGRN or TREM2 result in reduced cerebral glucose metabolism.

EMBO Mol Med 2019 06;11(6)

Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry, Biomedical Center (BMC), Faculty of Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany

Microglia adopt numerous fates with homeostatic microglia (HM) and a microglial neurodegenerative phenotype (MGnD) representing two opposite ends. A number of variants in genes selectively expressed in microglia are associated with an increased risk for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Among these genes are progranulin () and the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (). Both cause neurodegeneration by mechanisms involving loss of function. We have now isolated microglia from mice and compared their transcriptomes to those of Surprisingly, while loss of enhances the expression of genes associated with a homeostatic state, microglia derived from mice showed a reciprocal activation of the MGnD molecular signature and suppression of gene characteristic for HM The opposite mRNA expression profiles are associated with divergent functional phenotypes. Although loss of TREM2 and progranulin resulted in opposite activation states and functional phenotypes of microglia, FDG (fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose)-μPET of brain revealed reduced glucose metabolism in both conditions, suggesting that opposite microglial phenotypes result in similar wide spread brain dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15252/emmm.201809711DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6554672PMC
June 2019

Early increase of CSF sTREM2 in Alzheimer's disease is associated with tau related-neurodegeneration but not with amyloid-β pathology.

Mol Neurodegener 2019 01 10;14(1). Epub 2019 Jan 10.

Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry, Biomedical Center (BMC), Faculty of Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany.

Background: TREM2 is a transmembrane receptor that is predominantly expressed by microglia in the central nervous system. Rare variants in the TREM2 gene increase the risk for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). Soluble TREM2 (sTREM2) resulting from shedding of the TREM2 ectodomain can be detected in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and is a surrogate measure of TREM2-mediated microglia function. CSF sTREM2 has been previously reported to increase at different clinical stages of AD, however, alterations in relation to Amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) deposition or additional pathological processes in the amyloid cascade (such as tau pathology or neurodegeneration) remain unclear. In the current cross-sectional study, we employed the biomarker-based classification framework recently proposed by the NIA-AA consensus guidelines, in combination with clinical staging, in order to examine the CSF sTREM2 alterations at early asymptomatic and symptomatic stages of AD.

Methods: A cross-sectional study of 1027 participants of the Alzheimer's Disease Imaging Initiative (ADNI) cohort, including 43 subjects carrying TREM2 rare genetic variants, was conducted to measure CSF sTREM2 using a previously validated enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). ADNI participants were classified following the A/T/N framework, which we implemented based on the CSF levels of Aβ (A), phosphorylated tau (T) and total tau as a marker of neurodegeneration (N), at different clinical stages defined by the clinical dementia rating (CDR) score.

Results: CSF sTREM2 differed between TREM2 variants, whereas the p.R47H variant had higher CSF sTREM2, p.L211P had lower CSF sTREM2 than non-carriers. We found that CSF sTREM2 increased in early symptomatic stages of late-onset AD but, unexpectedly, we observed decreased CSF sTREM2 levels at the earliest asymptomatic phase when only abnormal Aβ pathology (A+) but no tau pathology or neurodegeneration (TN-), is present.

Conclusions: Aβ pathology (A) and tau pathology/neurodegeneration (TN) have differing associations with CSF sTREM2. While tau-related neurodegeneration is associated with an increase in CSF sTREM2, Aβ pathology in the absence of downstream tau-related neurodegeneration is associated with a decrease in CSF sTREM2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13024-018-0301-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6327425PMC
January 2019

CSF progranulin increases in the course of Alzheimer's disease and is associated with sTREM2, neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.

EMBO Mol Med 2018 12;10(12)

Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry, Biomedical Center (BMC), Faculty of Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany

Progranulin (PGRN) is predominantly expressed by microglia in the brain, and genetic and experimental evidence suggests a critical role in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We asked whether PGRN expression is changed in a disease severity-specific manner in AD We measured PGRN in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in two of the best-characterized AD patient cohorts, namely the Dominant Inherited Alzheimer's Disease Network (DIAN) and the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). In carriers of AD causing dominant mutations, cross-sectionally assessed CSF PGRN increased over the course of the disease and significantly differed from non-carriers 10 years before the expected symptom onset. In late-onset AD, higher CSF PGRN was associated with more advanced disease stages and cognitive impairment. Higher CSF PGRN was associated with higher CSF soluble TREM2 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2) only when there was underlying pathology, but not in controls. In conclusion, we demonstrate that, although CSF PGRN is not a diagnostic biomarker for AD, it may together with sTREM2 reflect microglial activation during the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15252/emmm.201809712DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6284390PMC
December 2018

Early lysosomal maturation deficits in microglia triggers enhanced lysosomal activity in other brain cells of progranulin knockout mice.

Mol Neurodegener 2018 09 4;13(1):48. Epub 2018 Sep 4.

Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry, Biomedical Center (BMC), Faculty of Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 81377, Munich, Germany.

Background: Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) lead to frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) while the complete loss of progranulin (PGRN) function results in neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), a lysosomal storage disease. Thus the growth factor-like protein PGRN may play an important role in lysosomal degradation. In line with a potential lysosomal function, PGRN is partially localized and processed in lysosomes. In the central nervous system (CNS), PGRN is like other lysosomal proteins highly expressed in microglia, further supporting an important role in protein degradation. We have previously reported that cathepsin (Cat) D is elevated in GRN-associated FTLD patients and Grn knockout mice. However, the primary mechanism that causes impaired protein degradation and elevated CatD levels upon PGRN deficiency in NCL and FTLD remains unclear.

Methods: mRNA expression analysis of selected lysosomal hydrolases, lysosomal membrane proteins and autophagy-related genes was performed by NanoString nCounter panel. Protein expression, maturation and in vitro activity of Cat D, B and L in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) and brains of Grn knockout mice were investigated. To selectively characterize microglial and non-microglial brain cells, an acutely isolated microglia fraction using MACS microbeads (Miltenyi Biotec) conjugated with CD11b antibody and a microglia-depleted fraction were analyzed for protein expression and maturation of selected cathepsins.

Results: We demonstrate that loss of PGRN results in enhanced expression, maturation and in vitro activity of Cat D, B and L in mouse embryonic fibroblasts and brain extracts of aged Grn knockout mice. Consistent with an overall enhanced expression and activity of lysosomal proteases in brain of Grn knockout mice, we observed an age-dependent transcriptional upregulation of certain lysosomal proteases. Thus, lysosomal dysfunction is not reflected by transcriptional downregulation of lysosomal proteases but rather by the upregulation of certain lysosomal proteases in an age-dependent manner. Surprisingly, cell specific analyses identified early lysosomal deficits in microglia before enhanced cathepsin levels could be detected in other brain cells, suggesting different functional consequences on lysosomal homeostasis in microglia and other brain cells upon lack of PGRN.

Conclusions: The present study uncovers early and selective lysosomal dysfunctions in Grn knockout microglia/macrophages. Dysregulated lysosomal homeostasis in microglia might trigger compensatory lysosomal changes in other brain cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13024-018-0281-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6123925PMC
September 2018

The wide genetic landscape of clinical frontotemporal dementia: systematic combined sequencing of 121 consecutive subjects.

Genet Med 2018 02 27;20(2):240-249. Epub 2017 Jul 27.

Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University of Tübingen, Tübingen Germany.

PurposeTo define the genetic spectrum and relative gene frequencies underlying clinical frontotemporal dementia (FTD).MethodsWe investigated the frequencies and mutations in neurodegenerative disease genes in 121 consecutive FTD subjects using an unbiased, combined sequencing approach, complemented by cerebrospinal fluid Aβ and serum progranulin measurements. Subjects were screened for C9orf72 repeat expansions, GRN and MAPT mutations, and, if negative, mutations in other neurodegenerative disease genes, by whole-exome sequencing (WES) (n = 108), including WES-based copy-number variant (CNV) analysis.ResultsPathogenic and likely pathogenic mutations were identified in 19% of the subjects, including mutations in C9orf72 (n = 8), GRN (n = 7, one 11-exon macro-deletion) and, more rarely, CHCHD10, TARDBP, SQSTM1 and UBQLN2 (each n = 1), but not in MAPT or TBK1. WES also unraveled pathogenic mutations in genes not commonly linked to FTD, including mutations in Alzheimer (PSEN1, PSEN2), lysosomal (CTSF, 7-exon macro-deletion) and cholesterol homeostasis pathways (CYP27A1).ConclusionOur unbiased approach reveals a wide genetic spectrum underlying clinical FTD, including 11% of seemingly sporadic FTD. It unravels several mutations and CNVs in genes and pathways hitherto not linked to FTD. This suggests that clinical FTD might be the converging downstream result of a delicate susceptibility of frontotemporal brain networks to insults in various pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/gim.2017.102DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846812PMC
February 2018

TREM2 deficiency impairs chemotaxis and microglial responses to neuronal injury.

EMBO Rep 2017 07 8;18(7):1186-1198. Epub 2017 May 8.

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) Munich, Munich, Germany

Sequence variations in the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) have been linked to an increased risk for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. In the brain, TREM2 is predominantly expressed in microglia. Several disease-associated TREM2 variants result in a loss of function by reducing microglial phagocytosis, impairing lipid sensing, preventing binding of lipoproteins and affecting shielding of amyloid plaques. We here investigate the consequences of TREM2 loss of function on the microglia transcriptome. Among the differentially expressed messenger RNAs in wild-type and Trem2 microglia, gene clusters are identified which represent gene functions in chemotaxis, migration and mobility. Functional analyses confirm that loss of TREM2 impairs appropriate microglial responses to injury and signals that normally evoke chemotaxis on multiple levels. In an organotypic brain slice assay, absence of TREM2 reduces the distance migrated by microglia. Moreover, migration towards defined chemo-attractants is reduced upon ablation of TREM2 and can be rescued by TREM2 re-expression. , microglia lacking TREM2 migrate less towards injected apoptotic neurons, and outgrowth of microglial processes towards sites of laser-induced focal CNS damage in the somatosensory cortex is slowed. The apparent lack of chemotactic stimulation upon depletion of TREM2 is consistent with a stable expression profile of genes characterizing the homoeostatic signature of microglia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15252/embr.201743922DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5494532PMC
July 2017

TREM2 deficiency reduces the efficacy of immunotherapeutic amyloid clearance.

EMBO Mol Med 2016 09 1;8(9):992-1004. Epub 2016 Sep 1.

Biomedical Center (BMC), Biochemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy), Munich, Germany German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) Munich, Munich, Germany

Immunotherapeutic approaches are currently the most advanced treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Antibodies against amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) bind to amyloid plaques and induce their clearance by microglia via Fc receptor-mediated phagocytosis. Dysfunctions of microglia may play a pivotal role in AD pathogenesis and could result in reduced efficacy of antibody-mediated Aβ clearance. Recently, heterozygous mutations in the triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2), a microglial gene involved in phagocytosis, were genetically linked to late onset AD Loss of TREM2 reduces the ability of microglia to engulf Aβ. We have now investigated whether loss of TREM2 affects the efficacy of immunotherapeutic approaches. We show that anti-Aβ antibodies stimulate Aβ uptake and amyloid plaque clearance in a dose-dependent manner in the presence or absence of TREM2. However, TREM2-deficient N9 microglial cell lines, macrophages as well as primary microglia showed significantly reduced uptake of antibody-bound Aβ and as a consequence reduced clearance of amyloid plaques. Titration experiments revealed that reduced efficacy of amyloid plaque clearance by Trem2 knockout cells can be compensated by elevating the concentration of therapeutic antibodies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15252/emmm.201606370DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5009806PMC
September 2016

Impaired protein degradation in FTLD and related disorders.

Ageing Res Rev 2016 12 7;32:122-139. Epub 2016 May 7.

Biomedical Center (BMC), Biochemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany. Electronic address:

Impaired protein degradation has been discussed as a cause or consequence of various neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease. More recently, evidence accumulated that dysfunctional protein degradation may play a role in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Since in almost all neurodegenerative diseases, protein aggregates are disease-defining hallmarks, it is most likely that impaired protein degradation contributes to disease onset and progression. In the majority of FTD cases, the pathological protein aggregates contain either microtubuleassociated protein tau or TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP)-43. Aggregates are also positive for ubiquitin and p62/sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1) indicating that these aggregates are targeted for degradation. FTD-linked mutations in genes encoding three autophagy adaptor proteins, p62/SQSTM1, ubiquilin 2 and optineurin, indicate that impaired autophagy might cause FTD. Furthermore, the strongest evidence for lysosomal impairment in FTD is provided by the progranulin (GRN) gene, which is linked to FTD and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. In this review, we summarize the observations that have been made during the last years linking the accumulation of disease-associated proteins in FTD to impaired protein degradation pathways. In addition, we take resent findings for nucleocytoplasmic transport defects of TDP-43, as discussed for hexanucleotide repeat expansions in C9orf72 into account and provide a hypothesis how the interplay of altered nuclear transport and protein degradation leads to the accumulation of protein deposits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2016.04.008DOI Listing
December 2016

Reduced secretion and altered proteolytic processing caused by missense mutations in progranulin.

Neurobiol Aging 2016 Mar 29;39:220.e17-26. Epub 2015 Dec 29.

Biochemistry, Biomedical Center (BMC), Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany; Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy), Munich, Germany; German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, DZNE, Munich, Germany.

Progranulin (GRN) is a secreted growth factor involved in various cellular functions, and loss-of-function mutations are a major cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with TDP-43 positive pathology. Most FTLD-related GRN mutations are nonsense mutations resulting in reduced GRN expression. Nonsynonymous GRN missense mutations have been described as risk factor for neurodegenerative brain diseases, but their pathogenic nature remains largely elusive. We identified a double missense mutation in GRN leading to amino acid changes p.D33E and p.G35R in an FTLD patient from Turkish origin. Biochemical and cell biological analysis of the double-mutation together with 2 so-far uncharacterized GRN missense mutations (p.C105R and p.V514M) revealed a reduced secretion efficiency of the GRN p.D33E/p.G35R and p.C105R proteins. Furthermore, loss of the conserved cysteine residue affects protein folding and altered proteolytic processing by neutrophil elastase and proteinase 3. Our data indicate that the described variants may cause a loss-of-function, albeit to a lesser extent than GRN null mutations, and hence could be considered as low-penetrant risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.12.014DOI Listing
March 2016

Progranulin transcripts with short and long 5' untranslated regions (UTRs) are differentially expressed via posttranscriptional and translational repression.

J Biol Chem 2014 Sep 23;289(37):25879-89. Epub 2014 Jul 23.

From the Adolf-Butenandt Institute, Biochemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, 80336 Munich, Germany, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), 80336 Munich, Germany, and the Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy), 80336 Munich, Germany

Frontotemporal lobar degeneration is associated with cytoplasmic or nuclear deposition of the TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43). Haploinsufficiency of progranulin (GRN) is a major genetic risk factor for frontotemporal lobar degeneration associated with TDP-43 deposition. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms that control cellular expression of GRN is required not only to understand disease etiology but also for the development of potential therapeutic strategies. We identified different GRN transcripts with short (38-93 nucleotides) or long (219 nucleotides) 5' UTRs and demonstrate a cellular mechanism that represses translation of GRN mRNAs with long 5' UTRs. The long 5' UTR of GRN mRNA contains an upstream open reading frame (uORF) that is absent in all shorter transcripts. Because such UTRs can be involved in translational control as well as in mRNA stability, we compared the expression of GRN in cells expressing cDNAs with and without 5' UTRs. This revealed a selective repression of GRN translation and a reduction of mRNA levels by the 219-nucleotide-long 5' UTR. The specific ability of this GRN 5' UTR to repress protein expression was further confirmed by its transfer to an independent reporter. Deletion analysis identified a short stretch between nucleotides 76 and 125 containing two start codons within one uORF that is required and sufficient for repression of protein expression. Mutagenesis of the two AUG codons within the uORF is sufficient to reduce translational repression. Therefore initiating ribosomes at the AUGs of the uORF fail to efficiently initiate translation at the start codon of GRN. In parallel the 5' UTR also affects mRNA stability; thus two independent mechanisms determine GRN expression via mRNA stability and translational efficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M114.560128DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4162188PMC
September 2014

Common pathobiochemical hallmarks of progranulin-associated frontotemporal lobar degeneration and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis.

Acta Neuropathol 2014 12;127(6):845-60. Epub 2014 Mar 12.

Adolf-Butenandt Institute, Biochemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Schillerstrasse 44, 80336, Munich, Germany.

Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the progranulin (GRN) gene and the resulting reduction of GRN levels is a common genetic cause for frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with accumulation of TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP)-43. Recently, it has been shown that a complete GRN deficiency due to a homozygous GRN loss-of-function mutation causes neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), a lysosomal storage disorder. These findings suggest that lysosomal dysfunction may also contribute to some extent to FTLD. Indeed, Grn(-/-) mice recapitulate not only pathobiochemical features of GRN-associated FTLD-TDP (FTLD-TDP/GRN), but also those which are characteristic for NCL and lysosomal impairment. In Grn(-/-) mice the lysosomal proteins cathepsin D (CTSD), LAMP (lysosomal-associated membrane protein) 1 and the NCL storage components saposin D and subunit c of mitochondrial ATP synthase (SCMAS) were all found to be elevated. Moreover, these mice display increased levels of transmembrane protein (TMEM) 106B, a lysosomal protein known as a risk factor for FTLD-TDP pathology. In line with a potential pathological overlap of FTLD and NCL, Ctsd(-/-) mice, a model for NCL, show elevated levels of the FTLD-associated proteins GRN and TMEM106B. In addition, pathologically phosphorylated TDP-43 occurs in Ctsd(-/-) mice to a similar extent as in Grn(-/-) mice. Consistent with these findings, some NCL patients accumulate pathologically phosphorylated TDP-43 within their brains. Based on these observations, we searched for pathological marker proteins, which are characteristic for NCL or lysosomal impairment in brains of FTLD-TDP/GRN patients. Strikingly, saposin D, SCMAS as well as the lysosomal proteins CTSD and LAMP1/2 are all elevated in patients with FTLD-TDP/GRN. Thus, our findings suggest that lysosomal storage disorders and GRN-associated FTLD may share common features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-014-1262-6DOI Listing
August 2015

The FTLD risk factor TMEM106B and MAP6 control dendritic trafficking of lysosomes.

EMBO J 2014 Mar 19;33(5):450-67. Epub 2013 Dec 19.

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Munich, Germany.

TMEM106B is a major risk factor for frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 pathology. TMEM106B localizes to lysosomes, but its function remains unclear. We show that TMEM106B knockdown in primary neurons affects lysosomal trafficking and blunts dendritic arborization. We identify microtubule-associated protein 6 (MAP6) as novel interacting protein for TMEM106B. MAP6 over-expression inhibits dendritic branching similar to TMEM106B knockdown. MAP6 knockdown fully rescues the dendritic phenotype of TMEM106B knockdown, supporting a functional interaction between TMEM106B and MAP6. Live imaging reveals that TMEM106B knockdown and MAP6 overexpression strongly increase retrograde transport of lysosomes in dendrites. Downregulation of MAP6 in TMEM106B knockdown neurons restores the balance of anterograde and retrograde lysosomal transport and thereby prevents loss of dendrites. To strengthen the link, we enhanced anterograde lysosomal transport by expressing dominant-negative Rab7-interacting lysosomal protein (RILP), which also rescues the dendrite loss in TMEM106B knockdown neurons. Thus, TMEM106B/MAP6 interaction is crucial for controlling dendritic trafficking of lysosomes, presumably by acting as a molecular brake for retrograde transport. Lysosomal misrouting may promote neurodegeneration in patients with TMEM106B risk variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/embj.201385857DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3989627PMC
March 2014

Mechanisms of granulin deficiency: lessons from cellular and animal models.

Mol Neurobiol 2013 Feb 13;47(1):337-60. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group, VIB Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Antwerp-CDE, Universiteitsplein 1, Antwerp, 2610, Belgium.

The identification of causative mutations in the (pro)granulin gene (GRN) has been a major breakthrough in the research on frontotemporal dementia (FTD). So far, all FTD-associated GRN mutations are leading to neurodegeneration through a "loss-of-function" mechanism, encouraging researchers to develop a growing number of cellular and animal models for GRN deficiency. GRN is a multifunctional secreted growth factor, and loss of its function can affect different cellular processes. Besides loss-of-function (i.e., mostly premature termination codons) mutations, which cause GRN haploinsufficiency through reduction of GRN expression, FTD-associated GRN missense mutations have also been identified. Several of these missense mutations are predicted to increase the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases through altering various key biological properties of GRN-like protein secretion, proteolytic processing, and neurite outgrowth. With the use of cellular and animal models for GRN deficiency, the portfolio of GRN functions has recently been extended to include functions in important biological processes like energy and protein homeostasis, inflammation as well as neuronal survival, neurite outgrowth, and branching. Furthermore, GRN-deficient animal models have been established and they are believed to be promising disease models as they show accelerated aging and recapitulate at least some neuropathological features of FTD. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the molecular mechanisms leading to GRN deficiency and the lessons we learned from the established cellular and animal models. Furthermore, we discuss how these insights might help in developing therapeutic strategies for GRN-associated FTD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12035-012-8380-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538123PMC
February 2013

Retromer regulates postendocytic sorting of β-secretase in polarized Madin-Darby canine kidney cells.

Traffic 2012 Oct 25;13(10):1393-410. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

Laboratory of Epithelial Cell Biology, Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe, Valencia, Spain.

β-Amyloid (Aβ) peptides are generated from the successive proteolytic processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by the β-APP cleaving enzyme (BACE or β-secretase) and the γ-secretase complex. Initial cleavage of APP by BACE leads into the amyloidogenic pathway, causing or exacerbating Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, their intracellular traffic can determine how easily and frequently BACE has access to and cleaves APP. Here, we have used polarized Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells stably expressing APP and BACE to examine the regulation of their polarized trafficking by retromer, a protein complex previously implicated in their endosome-to-Golgi transport. Our data show that retromer interacts with BACE and regulates its postendocytic sorting in polarized MDCK cells. Depleting retromer, inhibiting retromer function, or preventing BACE interaction with retromer, alters trafficking of BACE, which thereby increases its localization in the early endocytic compartment. As a result, this slows endocytosis of apically localized BACE, promoting its recycling and apical-to-basolateral transcytosis, which increases APP/BACE interaction and subsequent cleavage of APP toward generation and secretion of Aβ peptides.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0854.2012.01392.xDOI Listing
October 2012

Cellular ageing, increased mortality and FTLD-TDP-associated neuropathology in progranulin knockout mice.

J Pathol 2012 Sep 25;228(1):67-76. Epub 2012 Jun 25.

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group, Department of Molecular Genetics, VIB, Antwerp, Belgium.

Loss-of-function mutations in progranulin (GRN) are associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration with intraneuronal ubiquitinated protein accumulations composed primarily of hyperphosphorylated TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP). The mechanism by which GRN deficiency causes TDP-43 pathology or neurodegeneration remains elusive. To explore the role of GRN in vivo, we established Grn knockout mice using a targeted genomic recombination approach and Cre-LoxP technology. Constitutive Grn homozygous knockout (Grn(-/-) ) mice were born in an expected Mendelian pattern of inheritance and showed no phenotypic alterations compared to heterozygous (Grn(+/-) ) or wild-type (Wt) littermates until 10 months of age. From then, Grn(-/-) mice showed reduced survival accompanied by significantly increased gliosis and ubiquitin-positive accumulations in the cortex, hippocampus, and subcortical regions. Although phosphorylated TDP-43 could not be detected in the ubiquitinated inclusions, elevated levels of hyperphosphorylated full-length TDP-43 were recovered from detergent-insoluble brain fractions of Grn(-/-) mice. Phosphorylated TDP-43 increased with age and was primarily extracted from the nuclear fraction. Grn(-/-) mice also showed degenerative liver changes and cathepsin D-positive foamy histiocytes within sinusoids, suggesting widespread defects in lysosomal turnover. An increase in insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 was observed in Grn(-/-) brains, and increased IGF-1 signalling has been associated with decreased longevity. Our data suggest that progranulin deficiency in mice leads to reduced survival in adulthood and increased cellular ageing accompanied by hyperphosphorylation of TDP-43, and recapitulates key aspects of FTLD-TDP neuropathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.4043DOI Listing
September 2012

Membrane orientation and subcellular localization of transmembrane protein 106B (TMEM106B), a major risk factor for frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

J Biol Chem 2012 Jun 17;287(23):19355-65. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Adolf-Butenandt-Institute, Biochemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, 80336 Munich, Germany.

TMEM106B was identified as a major risk factor in a genome-wide association study for frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP)-43 pathology. The most significant association of TMEM106B single nucleotide polymorphisms with risk of FTLD-TDP was observed in patients with progranulin (GRN) mutations. Subsequent studies suggested an inverse correlation between TMEM106B expression and GRN levels in patient serum. However, in this study, this was not confirmed as we failed to detect a significant alteration of GRN levels upon knockdown or exogenous expression of TMEM106B in heterologous cells. To provide a basis for understanding TMEM106B function in health and disease, we investigated the membrane orientation and subcellular localization of this completely uncharacterized protein. By differential membrane extraction and sequential mutagenesis of potential N-glycosylation sites, we identified TMEM106B as a type 2 integral membrane protein with a highly glycosylated luminal domain. Glycosylation is partially required for the transport of TMEM106B beyond the endoplasmic reticulum to late cellular compartments. Endogenous as well as overexpressed TMEM106B localizes to late endosomes and lysosomes. Interestingly, the inhibition of vacuolar H(+)-ATPases significantly increased the levels of TMEM106B, a finding that may provide an unexpected biochemical link to GRN, because this protein is also strongly increased under the same conditions. Our findings provide a biochemical and cell biological basis for the understanding of the pathological role of TMEM106B in FTLD, an incurable neurodegenerative disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M112.365098DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3365973PMC
June 2012

Rescue of progranulin deficiency associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration by alkalizing reagents and inhibition of vacuolar ATPase.

J Neurosci 2011 Feb;31(5):1885-94

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Ludwig Maximilians University, 80336 Munich, Germany.

Numerous loss-of-function mutations in the progranulin (GRN) gene cause frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin and TAR-DNA binding protein 43-positive inclusions by reduced production and secretion of GRN. Consistent with the observation that GRN has neurotrophic properties, pharmacological stimulation of GRN production is a promising approach to rescue GRN haploinsufficiency and prevent disease progression. We therefore searched for compounds capable of selectively increasing GRN levels. Here, we demonstrate that four independent and highly selective inhibitors of vacuolar ATPase (bafilomycin A1, concanamycin A, archazolid B, and apicularen A) significantly elevate intracellular and secreted GRN. Furthermore, clinically used alkalizing drugs, including chloroquine, bepridil, and amiodarone, similarly stimulate GRN production. Elevation of GRN levels occurs via a translational mechanism independent of lysosomal degradation, autophagy, or endocytosis. Importantly, alkalizing reagents rescue GRN deficiency in organotypic cortical slice cultures from a mouse model for GRN deficiency and in primary cells derived from human patients with GRN loss-of-function mutations. Thus, alkalizing reagents, specifically those already used in humans for other applications, and vacuolar ATPase inhibitors may be therapeutically used to prevent GRN-dependent neurodegeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5757-10.2011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6623716PMC
February 2011

ALS-associated fused in sarcoma (FUS) mutations disrupt Transportin-mediated nuclear import.

EMBO J 2010 Aug 6;29(16):2841-57. Epub 2010 Jul 6.

DZNE-German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Munich, Germany.

Mutations in fused in sarcoma (FUS) are a cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Patients carrying point mutations in the C-terminus of FUS show neuronal cytoplasmic FUS-positive inclusions, whereas in healthy controls, FUS is predominantly nuclear. Cytoplasmic FUS inclusions have also been identified in a subset of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-FUS). We show that a non-classical PY nuclear localization signal (NLS) in the C-terminus of FUS is necessary for nuclear import. The majority of fALS-associated mutations occur within the NLS and impair nuclear import to a degree that correlates with the age of disease onset. This presents the first case of disease-causing mutations within a PY-NLS. Nuclear import of FUS is dependent on Transportin, and interference with this transport pathway leads to cytoplasmic redistribution and recruitment of FUS into stress granules. Moreover, proteins known to be stress granule markers co-deposit with inclusions in fALS and FTLD-FUS patients, implicating stress granule formation in the pathogenesis of these diseases. We propose that two pathological hits, namely nuclear import defects and cellular stress, are involved in the pathogenesis of FUS-opathies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/emboj.2010.143DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2924641PMC
August 2010

Masking of transmembrane-based retention signals controls ER export of gamma-secretase.

Traffic 2010 Feb 5;11(2):250-8. Epub 2009 Nov 5.

Leibniz Institut für Altersforschung-Fritz Lipmann Institut, 07743 Jena, Germany.

gamma-Secretase is critically involved in the Notch pathway and in Alzheimer's disease. The four subunits of gamma-secretase assemble in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and unassembled subunits are retained/retrieved to the ER by specific signals. We here describe a novel ER-retention/retrieval signal in the transmembrane domain (TMD) 4 of presenilin 1, a subunit of gamma-secretase. TMD4 also is essential for complex formation, conferring a dual role for this domain. Likewise, TMD1 of Pen2 is bifunctional as well. It carries an ER-retention/retrieval signal and is important for complex assembly by binding to TMD4. The two TMDs directly interact with each other and mask their respective ER-retention/retrieval signals, allowing surface transport of reporter proteins. Our data suggest a model how assembly of Pen2 into the nascent gamma-secretase complex could mask TMD-based ER-retention/retrieval signals to allow plasma membrane transport of fully assembled gamma-secretase.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0854.2009.01014.xDOI Listing
February 2010

Proteolytic processing of TAR DNA binding protein-43 by caspases produces C-terminal fragments with disease defining properties independent of progranulin.

J Neurochem 2009 Aug 9;110(3):1082-94. Epub 2009 Jun 9.

Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen and Adolf-Butenandt-Institute, Department of Biochemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.

Neuronal and glial deposition of misfolded, proteolytically processed, polyubiquitinated and abnormally phosphorylated C-terminal fragments (CTFs) of the TAR DNA binding protein-43 (TDP-43) is a pathological hallmark of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin positive inclusions (FTLD-U) and certain cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We demonstrate that TDP-43 can be proteolytically processed by caspases upon induction of apoptosis to a major 35 kDa and a minor 25 kDa CTF. These fragments are initially soluble, but over time they accumulate as insoluble and pathologically phosphorylated derivatives. However, proteolytic processing appears not to be absolutely required for the deposition of insoluble TDP-43 species, since a caspase resistant mutant of TDP-43 is also converted into insoluble species. Phosphorylation at S409/410 apparently occurs late during the conversion of soluble to insoluble TDP-43, suggesting that phosphorylation is not a prerequisite for aggregation. Loss of function of the progranulin (PGRN) gene causes FTLD-U with TDP-43 positive inclusions and has been suggested to lead to caspase activation and subsequent TDP-43 processing. However, siRNA-mediated knockdown of PGRN in cell culture as well as a PGRN gene knockout in mice failed to cause the formation of the disease characterizing CTFs of TDP-43. Our findings therefore suggest that caspase-mediated processing generates CTFs of similar biochemical properties as those occurring in nuclear and cytoplasmic deposits of FTLD-U patients independent of PGRN levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06211.xDOI Listing
August 2009

Missense mutations in the progranulin gene linked to frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-immunoreactive inclusions reduce progranulin production and secretion.

J Biol Chem 2008 Jan 5;283(3):1744-1753. Epub 2007 Nov 5.

Munich Center for Integrated Protein Science and Adolf-Butenandt-Institute, Department of Biochemistry, Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, 80336 Munich, Germany. Electronic address:

Loss of function mutations in progranulin cause tau-negative frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions. A major protein component of these inclusions is TDP-43, which becomes hyperphosphorylated, ubiquitinated, and cleaved to generate C-terminal fragments, which apparently translocate from nuclei to the cytoplasm. Most progranulin mutations are nonsense mutations resulting in nonsense-mediated mRNA decay and consequently reduced progranulin protein levels. However, some missense mutations are described that occur within the signal sequence and mature progranulin. We now demonstrate that a progranulin mutation located within the signal sequence (PGRN A9D) results in cytoplasmic missorting with extremely low expression. In contrast, two other progranulin mutations (PGRN P248L and R432C) are expressed as immature proteins but are inefficiently transported through and partially degraded within the secretory pathway, resulting in a significantly reduced secretion. Thus apparently all progranulin mutations cause reduced protein expression or secretion, although by different cellular mechanisms. To investigate a putative relationship between reduced expression of progranulin and TDP-43 relocalization and deposition, we down-regulated progranulin in human cell lines and in zebrafish. Upon reduction of progranulin, neither a major redistribution of TDP-43 nor proteolytic processing to disease-characterizing C-terminal fragments could be observed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M705115200DOI Listing
January 2008

A basolateral sorting signal directs ADAM10 to adherens junctions and is required for its function in cell migration.

J Biol Chem 2006 Aug 15;281(33):23824-9. Epub 2006 Jun 15.

Adolf Butenandt Institute, Department of Biochemistry, Laboratory for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease Research, Ludwig Maximilians University, Schillerstrasse 44, 80336 Munich, Germany.

ADAM10 (a disintegrin and metalloprotease) initiates regulated intramembrane proteolysis by shedding the ectodomain of a number of different substrates. Shedding is followed by subsequent intramembrane proteolysis leading to the liberation of intracellular domains capable of nuclear signaling. ADAM10 substrates have been found at cell-cell contacts and are apparently involved in cell-cell interaction and cell migration. Here we have investigated the cellular mechanism that guides ADAM10 to substrates at cell-cell contacts. We demonstrate that intracellular trafficking of ADAM10 critically requires a novel sorting signal within its cytoplasmic domain. Sequential deletion of the cytoplasmic domain and site-directed mutagenesis suggest that a potential Src homology 3-binding domain is essential for ADAM10 sorting. In a polarized epithelial cell line this motif not only targets ADAM10 to adherens junctions but is also strictly required for ADAM10 function in E-cadherin processing and cell migration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M601542200DOI Listing
August 2006

Gamma-secretase complex assembly within the early secretory pathway.

J Biol Chem 2005 Feb 10;280(8):6471-8. Epub 2004 Dec 10.

Adolf-Butenandt-Institut, Department of Biochemistry, Laboratory for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease Research, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Schillerstrasse 44, 80336 Munich, Germany.

gamma-Secretase is an aspartyl protease complex composed of the four core components APH-1, nicastrin (NCT), presenilin (PS), and PEN-2. It catalyzes the final intramembranous cleavage of the beta-secretase-processed beta-amyloid precursor protein to liberate the neurotoxic amyloid beta-peptide. Whereas unassembled complex components appear to be unstable and/or to be retained within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the fully assembled complex is known to exert its biological function in late secretory compartments, including the plasma membrane. We thus hypothesized that the gamma-secretase complex undergoes a stepwise assembly within the ER. We demonstrate that gamma-secretase-associated NCT can be actively retained within the ER by the addition of a retention signal. Under these conditions, complex assembly occurred in the absence of maturation of NCT, and ER-retained immature NCT associated with APH-1, PEN-2, and PS fragments. Moreover, a biotinylated transition state gamma-secretase inhibitor allowed the preferential isolation of the fully assembled complex containing immature NCT. Furthermore, we observed a conformational change in immature NCT, which is known to be selectively associated with complete gamma-secretase complex assembly. This was also observed for a small amount of immature endogenous NCT. ER-retained NCT also rescued the biochemical phenotype observed upon RNA interference-mediated NCT knockdown, viz. reduced amyloid beta-peptide production; instability of PS, PEN-2, and APH-1; and accumulation of beta-amyloid precursor protein C-terminal fragments. Finally, we demonstrate that dimeric (NCT/APH-1) and trimeric (NCT/APH-1/PS) intermediates of gamma-secretase complex assembly containing endogenous NCT are retained within the ER and that the incorporation of the fourth and last binding partner (PEN-2) also occurs on immature NCT, suggesting a complete assembly of the gamma-secretase complex within the ER.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M409106200DOI Listing
February 2005

The presenilin C-terminus is required for ER-retention, nicastrin-binding and gamma-secretase activity.

EMBO J 2004 Dec 18;23(24):4738-48. Epub 2004 Nov 18.

Laboratory for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease Research, Department of Biochemistry, Adolf-Butenandt-Institute, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München, Germany.

gamma-Secretase is an intramembrane cleaving protease involved in Alzheimer's disease. gamma-Secretase occurs as a high molecular weight complex composed of presenilin (PS1/2), nicastrin (NCT), anterior pharynx-defective phenotype 1 and PS enhancer 2. Little is known about the cellular mechanisms of gamma-secretase assembly. Here we demonstrate that the cytoplasmic tail of PS1 fulfills several functions required for complex formation, retention of unincorporated PS1 and gamma-secretase activity. The very C-terminus interacts with the transmembrane domain of NCT and may penetrate into the membrane. Deletion of the last amino acid is sufficient to completely block gamma-secretase assembly and release of PS1 from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). This suggests that unincorporated PS1 is actively retained within the ER. We identified a hydrophobic stretch of amino acids within the cytoplasmic tail of PS1 distinct from the NCT-binding site, which is required to retain unincorporated PS1 within the ER. Deletion of the retention signal results in the release of PS1 from the ER and the assembly of a nonfunctional gamma-secretase complex, suggesting that at least a part of the retention motif may also be required for the function of PS1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/sj.emboj.7600478DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535090PMC
December 2004

CADASIL-associated Notch3 mutations have differential effects both on ligand binding and ligand-induced Notch3 receptor signaling through RBP-Jk.

Exp Cell Res 2004 Oct;299(2):454-64

Department of Neurology, Klinikum Grosshadern, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany.

Mutations in the NOTCH3 gene are the cause of cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL), a hereditary angiopathy leading to strokes and dementia. Pathogenic mutations remove or insert cysteine residues within epidermal growth factor (EGF) repeats in the extracellular domain of the Notch3 receptor (N3ECD). Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) are the predominant site of Notch3 expression in adults. In CADASIL patients, VSMC degenerate and N3ECD is deposited within the vasculature. However, the mechanisms underlying VSMC degeneration and N3ECD accumulation are still unknown. In this study, we investigated the consequences of three pathogenic Notch3 mutations on the biological activity of the receptor by analyzing ligand (Delta-/Jagged-)-induced signaling via RBP-Jk. Two mutations (R133C and C183R) that are located outside the putative ligand binding domain (LBD) of the receptor were found to result in normal Jagged1-induced signaling in A7r5 VSMC, whereas the third mutation (C455R located within the putative LBD) showed strongly reduced signaling activity. Ligand binding assays with soluble Delta1 and Jagged1 revealed that C455R interferes with ligand binding through disruption of the LBD which, as we show here, is located in EGF repeats 10/11 of Notch3. All mutant receptors including Notch3C455R were targeted to the cell surface but showed an elevated ratio between the unprocessed full-length 280-kDa receptor and S1-cleaved receptor fragments. Taken together, these data indicate that CADASIL-associated Notch3 mutations differ with respect to their consequences both on ligand binding and ligand-induced signaling through RBP-Jk, whereas they have similar effects on receptor maturation. Moreover, the data suggest that ligand-induced receptor shedding may not be required for N3ECD deposition in CADASIL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yexcr.2004.06.004DOI Listing
October 2004

Nicastrin interacts with gamma-secretase complex components via the N-terminal part of its transmembrane domain.

J Biol Chem 2003 Dec 5;278(52):52519-23. Epub 2003 Nov 5.

Adolf-Butenandt-Institute, Department of Biochemistry, Laboratory for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease Research, Schillerstrasse 44, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, 80336 Munich, Germany.

Two secretases are involved in the generation of amyloid beta-peptide, the principal component of amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. While beta-secretase is a classical aspartyl protease, gamma-secretase activity is associated with a high molecular weight complex. One of the complex components, which is critically required for gamma-secretase activity is nicastrin (NCT). Here we investigate the assembly of NCT into the gamma-secretase complex. NCT mutants either lacking the entire cytoplasmic tail, the cytoplasmic tail, and the transmembrane domain (TMD), or containing a set of heterologous TMDs were expressed in cells with strongly reduced levels of endogenous NCT. Maturation of exogenous NCT, gamma-secretase complex formation and proteolytic function was then investigated. This revealed that the cytoplasmic tail of NCT is dispensable for gamma-secretase complex assembly and function. In contrast, the authentic TMD of NCT is critically required for the interaction with gamma-secretase complex components and for formation of an active gamma-secretase complex. Neither soluble NCT lacking any membrane anchor nor NCT containing a heterologous TMD were inserted into the gamma-secretase complex. We identified the N-terminal region of the NCT TMD as a functionally important entity of NCT. These data thus demonstrate that NCT interacts with other gamma-secretase complex components via its TMD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.C300435200DOI Listing
December 2003

Gamma-secretase activity is associated with a conformational change of nicastrin.

J Biol Chem 2003 May 18;278(19):16474-7. Epub 2003 Mar 18.

Adolf Butenandt-Institute, Department of Biochemistry, Laboratory for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease Research, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Schillerstrasse 44, 80336 Munich, Germany.

Gamma-secretase is a high molecular weight multicomponent protein complex with an unusual intramembrane-cleaving aspartyl protease activity. Gamma-secretase is intimately associated with Alzheimer disease because it catalyzes the proteolytic cleavage, which leads to the liberation of amyloid beta-peptide. At least presenilin (PS), Nicastrin (Nct), APH-1, and PEN-2 are constituents of the gamma-secretase complex, with PS apparently providing the active site of gamma-secretase. Expression of gamma-secretase complex components is tightly regulated, however little is known about the assembly of the complex. Here we demonstrate that Nct undergoes a major conformational change during the assembly of the gamma-secretase complex. The conformational change is directly associated with gamma-secretase function and involves the entire Nct ectodomain. Loss of function mutations generated by deletions failed to undergo the conformational change. Furthermore, the conformational alteration did not occur in the absence of PS. Our data thus suggest that gamma-secretase function critically depends on the structural "activation" of Nct.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.C300095200DOI Listing
May 2003

Presenilin-dependent intramembrane proteolysis of CD44 leads to the liberation of its intracellular domain and the secretion of an Abeta-like peptide.

J Biol Chem 2002 Nov 9;277(47):44754-9. Epub 2002 Sep 9.

Adolf-Butenandt-Institute, Department of Biochemistry, Laboratory for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease Research, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, 80336 Munich, Germany.

Alzheimer's disease (AD)-associated gamma-secretase is a presenilin (PS)- dependent proteolytic activity involved in the intramembraneous cleavage of the beta-amyloid precursor protein, Notch, LDL receptor-related protein, E-cadherin, and ErbB-4. This cut produces the corresponding intracellular domains (ICD), which are required for nuclear signaling of Notch and probably ErbB-4, the beta-amyloid precursor protein, E-cadherin, and the LDL receptor-related protein as well. We have now investigated CD44, a cell surface adhesion molecule, which also undergoes an intramembraneous cleavage to liberate its ICD. We demonstrate that this cleavage requires a PS-dependent gamma-secretase activity. A loss-of-function PS1 mutation, a PS1/PS2 knockout, as well as two independent and highly specific gamma-secretase inhibitors, abolish this cleavage. Surprisingly, small peptides similar to the amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta) are generated by an additional cut in the middle of the transmembrane region of CD44. Like Abeta, these CD44 beta-peptides are generated in a PS-dependent manner. These findings therefore suggest a dual intramembraneous cleavage mechanism mediated by PS proteins. The dual cleavage mechanism is required for nuclear signaling as well as removal of remaining transmembrane domains, a general function of PS in membrane protein metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M206872200DOI Listing
November 2002