Alzheimer's genetic risk factor FERMT2 (Kindlin-2) controls axonal growth and synaptic plasticity in an APP-dependent manner

Mol Psychiatry. 2021 Oct;26(10):5592-5607. doi: 10.1038/s41380-020-00926-w. Epub 2020 Nov 3.


Although APP metabolism is being intensively investigated, a large fraction of its modulators is yet to be characterized. In this context, we combined two genome-wide high-content screenings to assess the functional impact of miRNAs and genes on APP metabolism and the signaling pathways involved. This approach highlighted the involvement of FERMT2 (or Kindlin-2), a genetic risk factor of Alzheimer's disease (AD), as a potential key modulator of axon guidance, a neuronal process that depends on the regulation of APP metabolism. We found that FERMT2 directly interacts with APP to modulate its metabolism, and that FERMT2 underexpression impacts axonal growth, synaptic connectivity, and long-term potentiation in an APP-dependent manner. Last, the rs7143400-T allele, which is associated with an increased AD risk and localized within the 3'UTR of FERMT2, induced a downregulation of FERMT2 expression through binding of miR-4504 among others. This miRNA is mainly expressed in neurons and significantly overexpressed in AD brains compared to controls. Altogether, our data provide strong evidence for a detrimental effect of FERMT2 underexpression in neurons and insight into how this may influence AD pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics
  • Neurons
  • Risk Factors


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • FERMT2 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins

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