: Aging, genetic factors and head trauma are major risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Additionally, stroke significantly increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease, operating as either a precipitating or """"""""triggering"""""""" event. Apoptosis and increased Aa42 production have both been associated with stroke and head trauma. While there is an increasing body of knowledge indicating a strong association between cerebrovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease, the role of apoptosis and cerebral ischemia in Alzheimer's disease remains unclear. The central hypothesis of this research proposal is that conditions associated with apoptosis/caspase activation (e.g cerebral ischemia) increase BACE protein levels and a-secretase activity resulting in a potentiation of the amyloidogenic processing of APP leading to a vicious cycle of Aa toxicity/production. This hypothesis is strongly supported by our in vivo and in vitro preliminary data showing that a-secretase levels and activity are increased during apoptosis, leading to elevated total Aa and Aa42 levels in a variety of cell types (including primary neurons), and cerebral ischemia models in rats and mice. We have also discovered that the elevated activity of a-secretase during apoptosis is the result of increased protein stability of BACE following caspase activation. Caspase inhibition by treatment with zVAD, a broad spectrum caspase inhibitor is able to prevent the stabilization of BACE and the increase in Aa production. Regarding mechanism of stabilization, we have also discovered that BACE is degraded by the lysosomes and that GGA3, an adaptor protein involved in BACE intracellular trafficking, is a novel caspase substrate that it is cleaved during apoptosis. The latter was observed both in in vitro cell cultures and in vivo in rodent models of cerebral ischemia. The objective of this grant proposal is to determine the molecular mechanisms that regulate the activity and stability of a-secretase associated with apoptosis/caspase activation both in vitro and in animal models of ischemia. Specifically, we propose: 1: To determine the extent to which GGA3 affects BACE stability under normal conditions and during apoptosis;2: To determine which caspase(s) play a role in BACE stabilization (and increased Aa generation) during apoptosis;3: To determine the extent to which caspase-mediated increase in BACE protein levels and a-secretases activity contributes to increased Aa production in vivo.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Cell Death in Neurodegeneration Study Section (CDIN)
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Refolo, Lorenzo
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Tufts University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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