The Alzheimer's Disease γ-Secretase Generates Higher 42:40 Ratios for β-Amyloid Than for p3 Peptides

Cell Rep. 2017 Jun 6;19(10):1967-1976. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.05.034.


Alzheimer's disease is characterized by intracerebral deposition of β-amyloid (Aβ). While Aβ40 is the most abundant form, neurotoxicity is mainly mediated by Aβ42. Sequential cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP) by β- and γ-secretases gives rise to full-length Aβ (Aβ1-x) and N-terminally truncated Aβ' (Aβ11-x) whereas cleavage by α- and γ-secretases leads to the shorter p3 peptides (Aβ17-x). We uncovered significantly higher ratios of 42- versus 40-ending variants for Aβ and Aβ' than for p3 secreted by mouse neurons and human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurons or produced in a cell-free γ-secretase assay with recombinant APP-CTFs. The 42:40 ratio was highest for Aβ', followed by Aβ and then p3. Mass spectrometry analysis of APP intracellular domains revealed differential processing of APP-C83, APP-C89, and APP-C99 by γ-secretase already at the ε-cleavage stage. This mechanistic insight could aid in developing substrate-targeted modulators of APP-C99 processing to specifically lower the Aβ42:Aβ40 ratio without compromising γ-secretase function.

Keywords: AICD; APP CTF; Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid precursor protein; amyloidogenic pathway; beta-Amyloid; gamma-secretase; iPS cells; p3 peptide; primary neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Peptide Fragments
  • amyloid beta-protein (1-40)
  • amyloid beta-protein (1-42)
  • amyloid beta-protein p3, human
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases