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Dimerization of the transmembrane domain of amyloid precursor proteins and familial Alzheimer's disease mutants.

  • Author(s): Gorman, Paul M;
  • Kim, Sanguk;
  • Guo, Meng;
  • Melnyk, Roman A;
  • McLaurin, Joanne;
  • Fraser, Paul E;
  • Bowie, James U;
  • Chakrabartty, Avijit
  • et al.


Amyloid precursor protein (APP) is enzymatically cleaved by gamma-secretase to form two peptide products, either Abeta40 or the more neurotoxic Abeta42. The Abeta42/40 ratio is increased in many cases of familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD). The transmembrane domain (TM) of APP contains the known dimerization motif GXXXA. We have investigated the dimerization of both wild type and FAD mutant APP transmembrane domains.


Using synthetic peptides derived from the APP-TM domain, we show that this segment is capable of forming stable transmembrane dimers. A model of a dimeric APP-TM domain reveals a putative dimerization interface, and interestingly, majority of FAD mutations in APP are localized to this interface region. We find that FAD-APP mutations destabilize the APP-TM dimer and increase the population of APP peptide monomers.


The dissociation constants are correlated to both the Abeta42/Abeta40 ratio and the mean age of disease onset in AD patients. We also show that these TM-peptides reduce Abeta production and Abeta42/Abeta40 ratios when added to HEK293 cells overexpressing the Swedish FAD mutation and gamma-secretase components, potentially revealing a new class of gamma-secretase inhibitors.

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