Dysfunction in the synapse is recognized as an early and the primary pathological process in Alzheimer's disease (AD). N-cadherin, an essential adhesion molecule for excitatory synaptic contact, forms a complex with presenilin 1 (PS1) and beta-catenin in the synaptic membrane. N-cadherin is sequentially cleaved by ADAM10 and PS1/gamma-secretase, producing a cytoplasmic fragment, N-cadherin C-terminal fragment (Ncad/CTF2) after NMDA receptor stimulation [Marambaud P, Wen PH, Dutt A, Shioi J, Takashima A, Siman R, Robakis NK (2003) A CBP binding transcriptional repressor produced by the PS1/epsilon-cleavage of N-cadherin is inhibited by PS1 FAD mutations. Cell 114:635-645; Reiss K, Maretzky T, Ludwig A, Tousseyn T, de Strooper B, Hartmann D, Saftig P (2005) ADAM10 cleavage of N-cadherin and regulation of cell-cell adhesion and beta-catenin nuclear signalling. EMBO J 24:1762]. Ncad/CTF2 translocates to the nucleus together with beta-catenin to enhance beta-catenin nuclear signaling [Uemura K, Kihara T, Kuzuya A, Okawa K, Nishimoto T, Bito H, Ninomiya H, Sugimoto H, Kinoshita A, Shimohama S (2006a) Activity-dependent regulation of beta-catenin via epsilon-cleavage of N-cadherin. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 345:951-958]. To examine whether an impairment of N-cadherin metabolism is involved in AD pathogenesis, we investigated the effect of amyloid beta peptide (Abeta) treatment on sequential N-cadherin cleavage. Here, we demonstrate that both synthetic and cell-derived Abeta species inhibit ectodomain shedding of mouse N-cadherin. Inhibition of N-cadherin cleavage by Abeta treatment was suggested to be mediated by the enhanced endocytosis of NMDA receptor, resulting in reduced turnover of N-cadherin. Since both N-cadherin and beta-catenin are essential for synaptic plasticity, impairment of N-cadherin cleavage caused by Abeta may underlie the synapse toxicity involved in AD pathogenesis.