γ-Secretase is a multi-subunit enzyme whose aberrant activity is associated with Alzheimer's disease and cancer. While its structure is atomically resolved, γ-secretase localization in the membrane in situ relies mostly on biochemical data. Here, we combined fluorescent tagging of γ-secretase subunits with super-resolution microscopy in fibroblasts. Structured illumination microscopy revealed single γ-secretase complexes with a monodisperse distribution and in a 1:1 stoichiometry of PSEN1 and nicastrin subunits. In living cells, sptPALM revealed PSEN1/γ-secretase mainly with directed motility and frequenting 'hotspots' or high track-density areas that are sensitive to γ-secretase inhibitors. We visualized γ-secretase association with substrates like amyloid precursor protein and N-cadherin, but not with its sheddases ADAM10 or BACE1 at the cell surface, arguing against pre-formed megadalton complexes. Nonetheless, in living cells PSEN1/γ-secretase transiently visits ADAM10 hotspots. Our results highlight the power of super-resolution microscopy for the study of γ-secretase distribution and dynamics in the membrane.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; cell biology; gamma-secretase; human; mouse; presenilin1; single-particle tracking; super-resolution microscopy.
© 2020, Escamilla-Ayala et al.