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APLP: a potential Alzheimer's biomarker

APL1 and A domains
Sequence Alignment of APLP2
sequence aplp1sequence aplp2
Mutations in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene or in genes that process APP are correlated with familial Alzheimer's disease (AD). The biological function of APP remains unclear. APP is a transmembrane protein that can be sequentially cleaved by different secretases to yield multiple fragments, which can potentially act as signaling molecules. Caenorhabditis elegans encodes one APP-related protein, APL-1, which is essential for viability. Here, we show that APL-1 signaling is dependent on the activity of the FOXO transcription factor DAF-16 and the nuclear hormone receptor DAF-12 and influences metabolic pathways such as developmental progression, body size, and egg-laying rate. Furthermore, apl-1(yn5) mutants, which produce high levels of the extracellular APL-1 fragment, show an incompletely penetrant temperature-sensitive embryonic lethality. In a genetic screen to isolate mutants in which the apl-1(yn5) lethality rate is modified, we identified a suppressor mutation in MOA-1/R155.2, a receptor-protein tyrosine phosphatase, and an enhancer mutation in MOA-2/B0495.6, a protein involved in receptor-mediated endocytosis. Knockdown of apl-1 in an apl-1(yn5) background caused lethality and molting defects at all larval stages, suggesting that apl-1 is required for each transitional molt. We suggest that signaling of the released APL-1 fragment modulates multiple metabolic states and that APL-1 is required throughout development.

Ewald CY, Raps DA, Li C. APL-1, the Alzheimer's Amyloid precursor protein in Caenorhabditis elegans, modulates multiple metabolic pathways throughout development. Genetics. 2012;191(2):493-507.

Over the last 25 years, remarkable progress has been made not only in identifying key molecules of Alzheimer's disease but also in understanding their meaning in the pathogenic state. One hallmark of Alzheimer pathology is the amyloid plaque. A major component of the extracellular deposit is the amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptide which is generated from its larger precursor molecule, i.e., the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by consecutive cleavages. Processing is exerted by two enzymes, i.e., the beta-secretase and the ?-secretase. We and others have found that the self-association of the amyloid peptide and the dimerization and oligomerization of these proteins is a key factor under native and pathogenic conditions. In particular, the Abeta homodimer represents a nidus for plaque formation and a well defined therapeutic target. Further, dimerization of the APP was reported to increase generation of toxic Abeta whereas heterodimerization with its homologues amyloid precursor like proteins (APLP1 and APLP2) decreased Abeta formation. This review mainly focuses on structural features of the homophilic and heterophilic interactions among APP family proteins. The proposed contact sites are described and the consequences of protein dimerization on their functions and in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease are discussed.

Kaden D, Munter LM, Reif B, Multhaup G. The amyloid precursor protein and its homologues: structural and functional aspects of native and pathogenic oligomerization. Eur J Cell Biol. 2012;91(4):234-9.

Mutations in the gene encoding the amyloid precursor protein (APP) or the enzymes that process APP are correlated with familial Alzheimer disease. Alzheimer disease is also associated with insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes). In our recently published study, we obtained genetic evidence that the extracellular fragment of APL-1, the C. elegans ortholog of human APP, may act as a signaling molecule to modulate insulin and nuclear hormone pathways in C. elegans development. In addition, independent of insulin and nuclear hormone signaling, high levels of the extracellular fragment of APL-1 (sAPL-1) leads to a temperature-sensitive embryonic lethality, which is dependent on activity of a predicted receptor protein tyrosine phosphatase (MOA-1/R155.2). Furthermore, this embryonic lethality is enhanced by knockdown of a predicted prion-like protein (pqn-29). The precise molecular mechanisms underlying these processes remain to be determined. Here, we present hypothetical models as to how sAPL-1 signaling influences metabolic and developmental pathways. Together, with previous findings in mammals that the extracellular domain of mammalian APP (sAPP) binds to a death-receptor, our findings support the model that sAPP signaling affects critical biological processes.

Ewald CY, Li C. The secreted Alzheimer-related amyloid precursor protein fragment has an essential role in C. elegans. Prion. 2012;6(5):433-6.

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