Cyclase-associated protein 2 dimerization regulates cofilin in synaptic plasticity and Alzheimer's disease

Brain Commun. 2020 Jun 26;2(2):fcaa086. doi: 10.1093/braincomms/fcaa086. eCollection 2020.


Regulation of actin cytoskeleton dynamics in dendritic spines is crucial for learning and memory formation. Hence, defects in the actin cytoskeleton pathways are a biological trait of several brain diseases, including Alzheimer's disease. Here, we describe a novel synaptic mechanism governed by the cyclase-associated protein 2, which is required for structural plasticity phenomena and completely disrupted in Alzheimer's disease. We report that the formation of cyclase-associated protein 2 dimers through its Cys32 is important for cyclase-associated protein 2 binding to cofilin and for actin turnover. The Cys32-dependent cyclase-associated protein 2 homodimerization and association to cofilin are triggered by long-term potentiation and are required for long-term potentiation-induced cofilin translocation into spines, spine remodelling and the potentiation of synaptic transmission. This mechanism is specifically affected in the hippocampus, but not in the superior frontal gyrus, of both Alzheimer's disease patients and APP/PS1 mice, where cyclase-associated protein 2 is down-regulated and cyclase-associated protein 2 dimer synaptic levels are reduced. Notably, cyclase-associated protein 2 levels in the cerebrospinal fluid are significantly increased in Alzheimer's disease patients but not in subjects affected by frontotemporal dementia. In Alzheimer's disease hippocampi, cofilin association to cyclase-associated protein 2 dimer/monomer is altered and cofilin is aberrantly localized in spines. Taken together, these results provide novel insights into structural plasticity mechanisms that are defective in Alzheimer's disease.

Keywords: actin; cytoskeleton; dementia; synapse.