Based on the critical role of actin in the maintenance of synaptic function, we examined whether expression of familial beta-amyloid precursor protein APP-V642I (IAPP) or mutant presenilin-1 L286V (mPS1) affects actin polymerization in rat septal neuronal cells. Expression of either IAPP or mPS1 but not wild-type amyloid precursor protein or presenilin-1induced formation of actin stress fibers in SN1 cells, a septal neuronal cell line. Treatment with beta-amyloid (Abeta) peptide also caused formation of actin stress fibers in SN1 cells and primary cultured hippocampal neurons. Treatment with a gamma-secretase inhibitor completely blocked formation of actin stress fibers, indicating that overproduction of Abeta peptide induces actin stress fibers. Because activation of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38MAPK)-mitogen-associated protein kinase-associated protein kinase (MAPKAPK)-2-heat-shock protein 27 signaling pathway mediates actin polymerization, we explored whether Abeta peptide activates p38MAPK and MAPKAPK-2. Expression of IAPP or mPS1 induced activation of p38MAPK and MAPKAPK-2. Treatment with a p38MAPK inhibitor completely inhibited formation of actin stress fibers mediated by Abeta peptide, IAPP or mPS1. Moreover, treatment with a gamma-secretase inhibitor completely blocked activation of p38MAPK and MAPKAPK-2. In summary, our data suggest that overproduction of Abeta peptide induces formation of actin stress fibers through activation of the p38MAPK signaling pathway in septal neuronal cells.