Alzheimer's disease (AD) is pathologically characterized by the accumulation of ?-amyloid peptides (A?) generated via sequential proteolysis of amyloid precursor protein (APP). Over the years several physiological functions have been ascribed to APP. It has been proposed that APP can affect synaptic function by its dual roles via its cell-adhesive properties or through its putative receptor-like function that mediates intracellular signaling. Cleavage of full-length APP by ? and ?-secretases releases the entire ectodomain, leaving behind membrane bound C-terminal fragments (CTF) capable of mediating intracellular signaling until they are further processed by ?-secretase. In order to activate in a constitutive manner putative signaling associated with APP-CTF, we have designed a membrane-tethered APP cytoplasmic domain (mAICD). We found that accumulation of APP-CTFs generated by processing of APP or expression of mAICD (but not AICD) results in adenylate cyclase-dependent activation of PKA, inhibition of GSK3?, and enhanced dendritic and axonal arborization in primary cortical neurons. We identified a novel interaction between APP intracellular domain and the heterotrimeric G-protein subunit G?S, and by mutagenesis of the interaction motif within APP as well as expression of a dominant negative G?S mutant, demonstrate that interaction with G?S and subsequent G?S coupling to adenylate cyclase are essential for membrane-bound APP intracellular domain-induced neurite outgrowth. Our study provides clear evidence that APP intracellular domain can have a non-transcriptional role in regulating neurite outgrowth through its membrane association. Moreover, it was previously reported that APP could also interact with G?O. Activation of cAMP/PKA pathway is known to impact several brain functions such as synaptic plasticity and memory formation, as well as A??production through non-amyloidogenic pathway. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that functional coupling of APP cytoplasmic domain with G-proteins could influence neurite outgrowth, synapse formation and A??production. In order to investigate this hypothesis, we propose to develop mouse models that overexpress mAICD or mAICD mutant lacking G-protein binding site(s). We will employ recombinant adeno-associated viral (AAV) delivery and also generate transgenic mouse models to assess the physiopathological relevance of mAICD expression in the brain and its putative value in gene therapy. Amyloid deposition, A??production, stimulation of neurite outgrowth and synapse formation will be monitored in APP-null mice, mice coexpressing familial AD-linked mutant of APP and presenilin, and their control littermates, following AAV injections or transgenic intercross breeding. Our investigation will address the importance of a previously unrecognized intracellular signaling pathway associated with APP-CTF. A better understanding of APP-CTF and its associated signaling partners might provide important insights into the cellular mechanisms by which APP-CTF affects synaptic function and A??production, which could potentially impact on AD pathogenesis.
Our recent investigation identified a novel functional coupling of amyloid precursor protein C-terminal fragment with GS-protein at the neuronal membrane, which elicits a dual response in cultured neurons: PKA activation and GSK3 inhibition. GSK3 activation is a known pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, and clear evidence in the literature suggests that these dual-signaling events would favor axodendritic formation and synaptic function. By using adeno-associated viral expression strategy and novel transgenic mouse models to overexpress membrane-tethered amyloid precursor protein C-terminal fragment, our proposal will elucidate the significance of amyloid precursor protein C-terminal fragment-associated signaling in the brain, and lead to new perspectives in Alzheimer's disease etiology and potential therapeutics.