In recent decades, the study of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and of its proteolytic products carboxy terminal fragment (CTF), APP intracellular C-terminal domain (AICD) and amyloid beta has been mostly focussed on the role of APP as a producer of the toxic amyloid beta peptide. Here, we reconsider the role of APP suggesting, in a provocative way, the protein as a central player in a putative signalling pathway. We highlight the presence in the cytosolic tail of APP of the YENPTY motif which is typical of tyrosine kinase receptors, the phosphorylation of the tyrosine, serine and threonine residues, the kinases involved and the interaction with intracellular adaptor proteins. In particular, we examine the interaction with Shc and Grb2 regulators, which through the activation of Ras proteins elicit downstream signalling events such as the MAPK pathway. The review also addresses the interaction of APP, CTFs and AICD with other adaptor proteins and in particular with Fe65 for nuclear transcriptional activity and the importance of phosphorylation for sorting the secretases involved in the amyloidogenic or non-amyloidogenic pathways. We provide a novel perspective on Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis, focussing on the perturbation of the physiological activities of APP-CTFs and AICD as an alternative perspective from that which normally focuses on the accumulation of neurotoxic proteolytic fragments.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry © 2010 International Society for Neurochemistry.