APPepsilon, the epsilon-secretase-derived N-terminal product of the beta-amyloid precursor protein, behaves as a type I protein and undergoes alpha-, beta-, and gamma-secretase cleavages.

Research paper by Solveig S Lefranc-Jullien, Claire C Sunyach, Frédéric F Checler

Indexed on: 10 Mar '06Published on: 10 Mar '06Published in: Journal of Neurochemistry


beta-Amyloid peptide accumulates in the brain of patients affected by sporadic or familial forms of Alzheimer's disease. It derives from the proteolytic attacks of the beta-amyloid precursor protein (betaAPP) by beta- and gamma-secretase activities. An additional epsilon cleavage taking place a few residues C-terminal to the gamma-site has been reported, leading to the formation of an intracellular fragment referred to as APP intracellular domain C50. This epsilon cleavage received particular attention because it resembles the S3 Notch cleavage generating Notch intracellular domain. Indeed, APP intracellular domain, like its Notch counterpart, appears to mediate important physiological functions. gamma and epsilon cleavages on betaAPP appear spatio-temporally linked but pharmacologically distinct and discriminable by mutagenesis approaches. As these cleavages could be seen as either deleterious (gamma-site) or beneficial (epsilon-site), it appears of most interest to set up models aimed at studying these activities separately, particularly to design specific and bioavailable inhibitors. On the other hand, it is important to respect the topology of the substrates in order to examine physiologically relevant cleavages. Here we describe the obtention of cells overexpressing APPepsilon, the epsilon-secretase-derived N-terminal fragment of betaAPP. Interestingly, this N-terminal fragment of betaAPP was shown by biochemical and immunohistochemical approaches to behave as a genuine membrane-bound protein. APPepsilon undergoes constitutive and protein kinase C-regulated alpha-secretase cleavages. Furthermore, APPepsilon is targeted by the beta-secretase beta-site APP-cleaving enzyme and is subsequently cleaved by gamma-secretase. The resulting beta-amyloid peptide production is fully prevented by various gamma-secretase inhibitors. Altogether, our study shows that APPepsilon is a relevant betaAPP derivative to study gamma-secretase activities and to design specific inhibitors without facing any rate-limiting effect of epsilon-secretase-derived cleavage.